The protection in question is about transgender people being shielded against sex discrimination in health care. Therefore the Department of Health and Human Services has said it will now enforce sex discrimination protections according to the biological meaning of the words sex. This means they will be sticking to the plain meaning of the term ‘sex’ i.e. male or female.
This rewrites an Obama-era regulation that sought a broader understanding shaped by a person’s internal sense of being male, female, neither or a combination.
For those seeking, sex-reassignment treatment, explicit protections are needed according to LGBTQ groups.
This is even more important for those who are suffering from underlying health conditions such as diabetes or heart problems.
But conservative American’s say the Obama administration exceeded its legal authority in broadly interpreting gender.
President Donald Trump in Oval Office
As Pride month has also coincided with the global Black Lives Matters protests, LGBTQ groups have said they will be standing in solidarity together, side by side with the Black community.
Behind the dispute over legal rights is a medically recognized condition called “gender dysphoria” – discomfort or distress caused by a discrepancy between the gender that a person identifies as and the gender at birth.
This confusion and distress can lead to severe mental health issues such as depression.
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Treatment can range from sex-reassignment surgery and hormones to people changing their outward appearance by adopting a different hairstyle or clothing.
Many of the social and religious conservatives who have been supporting the Trump administration in this move disagree with that concept.
Instead, they view sex as more of a binary idea, with there being only two genders.
According to Mary Beth Waddell of the religious conservative Family Research Council: “Under the old Obama rule, medical professionals could have been forced to facilitate gender reassignment surgeries and abortions – even if they believed this was a violation of their conscience or believed it harmful to the patient.”
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When the Obama administration rule was in place, a hospital could be required to perform gender-transition procedures such as hysterectomies if the facility provided that kind of treatment for other medical conditions.
The rule was meant to carry out the anti-discrimination section of the Affordable Care Act, which bars sex discrimination in health care but does not use the term “gender identity.”
Women’s groups say the new regulations also undermine access to abortion, which is a legal medical procedure.
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Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center says: “No one should fear to be turned away by a medical provider because of who they are or the personal health decisions they have made.”
According to the Williams Institute, more than 1.5 million American’s identify as transgender, furthermore 4.5% of the population – identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to Gallup.
The Williams Institute, a think tank focusing on LGBT policy at the UCLA School of Law.
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Their public policy expert, Jody Herman says: “The changes to this rule could further harm transgender people’s health care access at a time when they face serious challenges related to COVID-19.”
But Roger Severino, head of the Health and Human Services Department unit that enforces civil rights laws, said transgender people continue to be protected by other statutes that bar discrimination in health care on account of race, colour, national origin, age, disability and other factors.
For the Trump administration, it’s the latest in a series of steps to revoke newly won protections for LGBTQ people in areas ranging from the military to housing and education.