The Trump administration has passed a rule this Friday that ends transgender rights protections in Healthcare. It negates all protections accorded to transpersons by the healthcare industry.

What are the rights that no longer exist?

Obamacare, or Affordable Care act of 2010, had included basic rights protections across for various social identities, including sex discrimination, including discrimination based on gender identity. 

"Sex" included male, female or neither, or a combination of male and female. 

Hence, healthcare providers would have to provide coverage and treatment to trans and other gender identities. 

The latest modifications

The definition of "sex discrimination" has been modified and the rule during Obama's tenure has been reversed. 

Interpreting section 1557 of the Affordable Healthcare Act, the US Department of Health and Human Services released the following statement:

"Under the final rule, HHS eliminates certain provisions of the 2016 Rule that exceeded the scope of the authority delegated by Congress in Section 1557. HHS will enforce Section 1557 by returning to the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word “sex” as male or female and as determined by biology."

Hence, now, sex discrimination only includes "male or female", which essentially reduces the act to giving protections based on biological sex.

The Trump administration has justified it, saying that it is to "simplify" the law.

What does this mean for transgender people?

The reversal of this rule has several effects.

Firstly, healthcare providers can now charge more from LGBTQ+ people, or deny coverage. 

Trans people are now also prone to transphobia in medical care, making it more inaccessible. Studies already show that a vast majority of LGBTQ+ people face discrimination in medical facilities, and are not treated with the same respect that non-LGBTQ+ people are.

Moreover, the healthcare system being occupied with predominantly non-LGBTQ+ people makes the issue even more deeply concerning.

Moreover, it can be horrifying amidst a pandemic - because it can very possibly discourage transgender people from approaching healthcare services for testing and treatment. 

The effects can be even more detrimental when it comes to the black trans community. A study published by NPR shows that black people are more susceptible to dying from COVID-19 than white people. 

Looking forward 

The passing of these modifications from the Executive branch are still going to face two major hurdles, notes NPR.

Firstly, the Supreme Court this month is going to rule on some major cases questioning whether federal laws barring sex discrimination when it comes to matters of employment apply on LGBTQIA+ people.

If the court rules that the provisions do apply, then this rule is bound to be challenged in court. In fact, Human Rights Campaign has released a statement declaring that they will sue Trump for this.

"We're filing a lawsuit challenging the Trump-Pence administration's decision to role back critical civil rights protections in the rule implementing section 1557 of the ACA."

Secondly, in the Congress, the Democrats have made it clear that they do not support this rule. They can use the Congressional Review Act, but only if the Congress does come in session within 60 days, and simple majority blocks the rule. 

Should the court put the rule on hold following HRC's lawsuit, the rule shall not go into effect after 60 days.  


Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash