Trump administration drops transgender health protections

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Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

The Trump administration on Friday [June 12] reversed non-discrimination protections for transgender people in health care, a policy shift that has been among the top priorities of social conservatives who constitute the president’s base.

The rule change, part of a host of updates pertaining to abortion, birth control and families undertaken by federal officials over the past three years, represents an important setback in the movement for LGBTQ rights. Under President Barack Obama, the concept of gender in many areas of the law had been broadened beyond biological sex to encompass the myriad identities that different Americans embrace.

Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, has argued that when members of Congress who passed the 2010 Affordable Care Act prohibited providers receiving federal funding from discrimination on the basis of sex, they meant “the plain meaning of the term.”

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HHS elaborated in a statement Friday that it believes those anti-discrimination provisions apply only to “male or female as determined by biology.” It described the change as part of efforts to remove “costly and unnecessary regulatory burdens” that it said were costing American taxpayers $2.9 billion.

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On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal’s Transgender Rights Project said they would challenge the rule in court.

Civil rights groups described the new rules as part of a broader attack on reproductive and sexual rights.

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