Biden's trans diversity hire Rachel Levine has big plans for LGBTQ 'health equity' in a potential second term

They'll be looking to build on their recent successes.

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY
More health equity is what's on tap for the Department of Health and Human Services, should Joe Biden retain the White House and serve a second term. Speaking to the LGTBQIA Washington Blade, Xavier Becerra and trans diversity hire and pediatrician Dr. Rachel Levine said their mission, if Biden wins reelection, will be to secure even more "equity" for LGBTQ persons and services. That includes forcing hospitals to risk their federal funding if they refuse to perform sex changes for minors.

Or at least, that's the implication. The duo said, per the Blade, that they'll be looking to build on their recent successes. These include "The issuance in April of a final rule clarifying that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is prohibited under the Affordable Care Act," which applies the Supreme Court's 2020 Bostock ruling to health care, despite the court's insistence at the time that it was specific to circumstances of employment alone.

The provision further guides insurance companies that they are not permitted to block coverage for procedures and drugs that are specifically to be used for the furtherance of trans identity. In other words, insurance companies must pay for men to get breast enlargements when that is part of their gender identity transformation. Notably, women who seek breast augmentation in order to give themselves a more feminine look are not permitted insurance coverage for that surgery. Biden has backed the plan.

The pair also said, per the Blade, that they were proud of their recent work on data collection, including "a demographic data collection plan on sexual orientation and gender identity metrics; the pursuit of regulations and litigation (coordinated with the Justice Department) to combat healthcare restrictions, including those which target LGBTQ communities; and the agency’s commitments to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility."

The Human Rights Campaign, which pushes trans identity protections, was a proponent of the plan, saying that: "HHS’s definitions of gender identity and sex stereotypes recognize that protections against sex discrimination should extend to people of all gender identities—including transgender individuals and people of non-binary genders."

"Section 1557 prohibits most insurers from discriminating on the basis of sex—including gender identity—when providing health coverage. Discrimination on the basis of gender identity includes: blanket exclusions on any transition-related healthcare services; The denial or limitation of coverage for services used for gender transition when those services would normally be covered when treating a non-transition-related health condition; and the refusal to cover treatment that is typically associated with one particular gender, because an individual identifies with another gender or is listed as having another gender in their medical records or on a personal form of identification."

"Section 1557," HRC continues, "requires that providers treat individuals in a manner consistent with their gender identity, including in access to health care facilities. Wherever people are separated or labeled by gender, people are to be treated according to their self-identified gender." This means, in practice, that if a woman who says she's a man comes in with symptoms indicating she could be pregnant doctors are not supposed to give her a pregnancy test because that would not be in keeping with her gender identity.

Becerra leaned into new ideas for mental health, as well, saying that HHS intends to undertake initiatives to make sure that patients are seen by providers that have their same identifiers. He also said how proud he was to be part of the first federal agency to raise the Pride flag. He said "the fact that we’re the first department to fly the Pride flag, I think it shows that we’re out front, and we are very intent on making sure everyone has access to the care that they need."

Levine, who underwent gender transition after a long heterosexual marriage, fathering children, and a career in medicine, said that representation is really the most important thing. "One of the highlights, I think, of the Biden-Harris administration and Secretary Becerra’s leadership is the emphasis on building representation in Washington that looks like the people of our country," Levine told the Blade.

"Whether it is communities of color, whether it is the LGBTQI+ community, young people, seniors, I mean, we really want the people who work for the people of our country to look like them and to represent them," said Levine, who believes himself to be a woman, with all the rights and privileges thereto.
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