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Almost half of America is suing the Trump administration over its debased rollback of LGBT+ healthcare protections

Lily Wakefield July 21, 2020
Trump LGBT healthcare

Donald Trump's administration rolled back LGBT+ healthcare protections on the fourth anniversary of the Pulse shooting. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Twenty-two US states plus the District of Columbia have filed a joint lawsuit against the Trump administration over its move to eliminate healthcare protections for LGBT+ patients.

On Monday (July 20) a lawsuit was filed against the Trump administration and its rollback of LGBT+ healthcare protections by the attorney generals of 22 states plus that of the District of Columbia.

It argues that Trump’s anti-trans rule change contradicts the landmark US Supreme Court ruling that LGBT+ people are entitled to protection from discrimination in employment based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to the lawsuit, the change “arbitrarily and unlawfully strips health care rights statutorily guaranteed by Section 1557 from transgender people, women and other individuals seeking reproductive health care or with pregnancy-related conditions”.

It also states that the rollback affects “limited English proficiency individuals, individuals with disabilities, and other individuals experiencing discrimination”.

The suit is signed by the attorney generals of Massachusetts, New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

It adds that the rule change was “eliminating protections against LGBTQ people without sufficient justification” and was part of the White House’s “long-running campaign to attack the civil rights of transgender Americans and to push members of that community back to the margins of society, a campaign fuelled by [the administration’s] own well-documented contempt for transgender people and the entire LGBTQ community”.

Lawsuit seeks to protect Obama-era civil rights.

The aim of the suit is to protect the anti-discrimination language included by the Obama administration in the Affordable Care Act, often known as Obamacare, which established broad civil rights protections in healthcare.

The act barred discrimination based on race, colour, national origin, sex, age or disability in health programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance, and in 2016, the Obama administration added gender identity to the list.

But in June, 2020, on the four year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would be scrapping protections against discrimination based on gender identity.

The department issued a statement saying the final rule is based on “the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.”

In short, it means that if a trans patient is discriminated on the basis of their gender identity by a doctor, medical facility or their health insurer, there would be little protecting them.

On June 15, the Supreme Court ruled that existing provisions under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlaw discrimination based on sex, also apply to cases where “an employer fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender”, and the lawsuit insists that this definition of sex discrimination should also apply in healthcare.

According to the Sacramento Bee, California attorney general Xavier Becerra described the healthcare rule change as “unbelievably immoral”, “mean and unconstitutional” and said at a press conference: “The moment when our nation is working to fight against and confront systemic discrimination is not the time to open up more discrimination.”

More: Affordable Care Act, attorney generals, Donald Trump, gender identity, healthcare, lawsuit, Obamacare, Trans, trump administration

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