HHS Rule Change Affects Trans-Gender, Abortion Discrimination Protections

According to the New York Times, the rule change affects multiple areas such as education, housing, and employment, a similar rule change was also proposed last year. The Affordable Care Act in 2010 contained protections for when it comes to discrimination on “race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability” with regards to federal programs that received federal funding. The Trump administration’s recent rule-change affects protections so that the sex-discrimination will no longer cover gender-identity. Under the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law, gender-identity was included, under the new Trump interpretation of the law, it is not.

Roger Severino, the director of the Office of Civil Rights states that the rule-change was simply “house-keeping”, and all that the federal government was doing was changing the rules to reflect the existing legal reality. One court ruling from Fort Worth stated that the ruling did not need to be enforced, while, other court rulings held that it should be enforced. Mr. Severino said that

“It’s not the role of the federal bureaucrat to impose their own meanings on the words that their representatives have enshrined into law,” he said.

Mr. Severino also said that it would be up to individual hospitals and health-care providers to have their own policy. Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, the deputy executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, state that it was wrong for this rule to be gutted in the middle of a pandemic, and, that, “This rule opens a door for a medical provider to turn someone away for a Covid-19 test just because they happen to be transgender.”

LGBT organizations are already planning to sue over the rule. Katie M Keith, who teaches health law at Georgetown University states that it’s paving the way for the erasure of the status of transgenders and that sex will be set to the birth default. The rule-change has consequences that reach further than just transgender discrimination. It removes the protection against those that have a history of pregnancy termination, and doesn’t require that providers notify people about the availability of certain important documents’ foreign language translations.

Fox News further confirms the reporting of the New York Times adding that it would target abortion and gender-transitions with “religious liberty”. Democrats were upset over the rule-change as it happened to have been made on an anniversary of the Pulse Night Club shooting, which took place in Orlando. Andrew Cuomo, similarly has expressed concern like Rodrigo has, called the rule-change repugnant, that the Pulse Night Club was a domestic terror incident targeting the LGBT community and that it was “grotesque” to do this during a global pandemic.

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