The Health and Human Services Department on Friday proposed a rule change that would weaken protections for transgender people under the Affordable Care Act.
The Obama administration had expanded the definition for discrimination on the basis of sex to include transgender people, and the Trump administration rule would roll that back.
“When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform,” Roger Severino, the director of the Office of Civil Rights at HHS, said in a statement announcing the rule. “The American people want vigorous protection of civil rights and faithfulness to the text of the laws passed by their representatives.”
Transgender rights advocates worry the rule change would put up new barriers for transgender people seeking health care.
“This proposed rule is yet another outright attack from the Trump administration on the health, well-being, and survival of transgender people. Everyone should be able to go to the doctor when we need help without being turned away or denied treatment because of who we are,” Kris Hayashi, the executive director of the Transgender Law Center, said in a statement. “That’s what the law says, yet in practice many transgender people still face devastating discrimination in health care.”
“This rule dangerously encourages illegal discrimination, putting the lives of transgender people in jeopardy – particularly for trans people living with HIV, Black transgender people and people of color, trans people with disabilities, and rural and Southern trans folks,” Hayashi added.