The Biden administration has announced it has reversed the Trump-era healthcare discrimination based on biological gender.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has affirmed that federal anti-discrimination in healthcare also protect homosexual and transgender people. The Trump administration had defined “sex” to mean the gender assigned at birth, which would exclude transgender people from the law’s protection. “Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a statement. “Everyone — including LGBTQ people — should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.”
Becerra said the policy shift will bring the HHS into line with a landmark 6-3 Supreme Court decision last year which established that federal laws against sex discrimination on the job also protect LGBTQ people. Despite that ruling, the Trump administration had locked out transgender people by narrowing the definition of sex to birth-assigned gender. The Trump administration had also argued that as a legal matter, healthcare discrimination was separate to the employment case on which the Supreme Court had decided the ruling.
The Biden administration action restores the policy established under President Obama’s administration in which “sex” is not only biological but can be shaped by a person’s inner sense of identity as male, female, neither, in-between, etc. LGBTQ activists have long advocated for specific protections for people seeking gender affirming treatment, as well as for transgender people who need care for illnesses and medical conditions that are apart from gender identity but which may be impacted by it, such as cancer, heart health, diabetes etc.
SAGE is the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older people, issued the following statement:
“We at SAGE applaud the Biden administration’s public declaration from the Department for Health and Human Services prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity under section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “These protections are critical to the health and well-being of millions of LGBT elders across the country.” Continued Adams, “while this is an important step forward, we must urge the Senate to take action and make the Equality Act the law of the land. LGBT elders have already waited too long for the broader non-discrimination protections that the Equality Act affords.”
More than 1.5 million Americans identify as transgender, according to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.