Amid the GOP's struggle to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Trump administration blocked Obamacare's nondiscrimination provisions protecting transgender people and health programs related to abortions, according to a report in Rewire. To recap, in May 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) enacted a rule implementing Section 1557 of the health care law, which essentially prohibits entities that receive federal funding from discriminating against certain health care programs and patients based on their race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity), age, or disability.
But earlier this year, in a legal challenge of Section 1557's "interpretation of discrimination ‘on the basis of sex’. . . as encompassing ‘gender identity’ and ‘termination of pregnancy,'" a federal judge in Texas issued a nationwide order halting the enforcement of Section 1557 as it relates to transgender people and abortion providers. Then, on Tuesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a motion for a voluntary "remand and stay" of Section 1557, sending it back to the HHS, now run by Tom Price, who is anti-abortion and opposes free birth control. The HHS announced later that it will continue to enforce other nondiscrimination protections — except those that cover transgender people and health care providers offering abortion services.
The latest move by the DOJ is a blow to the transgender community. "The Section 1557 regulation has been literally life-saving for transgender people all across the country, who are routinely turned away from emergency rooms and doctors’ offices and refused coverage for critical medical care. Now, the Trump administration is going after transgender people yet again and trying to take away these basic protections," Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement addressing the department's refusal to appeal the Texas court's order.
The progress in LGBTQ rights made under the Obama administration have been slowly but surely — and silently — eroding under President Trump. While not a staunch anti-LGBTQ politician himself (it's hard to know where he stands on any given topic on any given day), the president seems to be comfortable going along with Vice President Mike Pence's virulently homophobic and transphobic agenda.
In her statement, Kiesling took issue with the administration's rejection of medical and scientific findings, as well as general knowledge and public opinion — a gripe that climate change scientists and advocates have similarly accused the White House of. Kiesling said:
The administration is rejecting the views of every major medical associations, most courts, and most Americans, who believe that people should not be denied health care because of who they are. That’s not just bad science and bad law — it’s a dangerous attack on transgender people’s ability to survive.