This past Wednesday, The Washington Post reported on a lawsuit filed by officials from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that attempts to narrowly define what counts as gendered discrimination. This interpretation of Obama-era anti-discrimination law leaves the door open for medical providers and insurers to leave transgender Americans uninsured and untreated.
HHS officials, filing in a Texas court, are claiming that the discrimination protections under the Affordable Care Act have been illegally applied, and should be rewritten.
In the suit, HHS attorneys wrote, “the United States has returned to its long-standing position that the term ‘sex’ . . . does not refer to gender identity.”
Under the Obama administration, “sex” was interpreted to be inclusive of gender; this helped ensure trans Americans could seek transition-related healthcare with less fear of discrimination. Now the Trump administration, through HHS and this suit, is ready to snatch away what little protections transgender Americans have.
The certainty of the HHS attorneys’ language is striking. “The United States has returned to its long-standing position.” Not will return, or should, but has. In the minds of HHS and the current presidential administration, the discussion is over, and they can proceed like victors. It is another signal of outright disregard and hostility towards a marginalized group and of what their intentions are.
In other words, it’s just another week in the Trump era.