Trump just dismantled one of the last major protections keeping transgender people safe

Trump just dismantled one of the last major protections keeping transgender people safe

The Trump administration announced Friday morning sweeping changes to the rules protecting transgender people from discrimination in health care. Combined with an announcement earlier this week ending gender identity protections in homeless shelters, the administration has now taken steps to exclude transgender people from almost every aspect of public life, including employment, housing, health care, education, prisons, and the military.

The Trump administration has been forecasting these changes for some time. The changes to the health care rules proposed Friday, however, are perhaps the most damning evidence that it completely disregards transgender people’s humanity, and in fact views them as a threat to the safety of society.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wants to revise what’s known as “Section 1557,” the nondiscrimination protections found in the Affordable Care Act. The Obama administration had interpreted the protections on the basis of “sex” to include gender identity, and the Trump administration seeks to reverse that interpretation. In fact, HHS even goes further and argues that sex stereotyping should no longer be protected, ignoring a Supreme Court precedent recognizing such stereotyping as a form of illegal discrimination. The scope of the proposed regulation mirrors a leaked memo from last year proposing to from recognition throughout the federal government.

The change incorporates exemptions found in Title IX allowing religious universities to discriminate on the basis of sex; under the new rule, religious hospitals will be completely free to do the same. This reinforces the separate the administration introduced earlier this month, which would allow health care providers to discriminate on the basis of their religious beliefs.

When President Donald Trump took questions from the press Friday, one reporter pressed him on the rule change, asking, “Should doctors be forced to perform transgender reassignment surgeries?”

Trump responded by simply saying, “We’re going to see. We’ll see.”