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Media claims of Trump overturning trans protections in healthcare are unfounded

Trump didn't roll back healthcare protections for transgender people, because something that has never been enacted into law can't be reversed.
Chad Felix Greene USA

Did President Trump’s administration erase transgender healthcare protections on the 4th anniversary of the Pulse terrorist attack in which 49 LGBT Americans were killed? According to all major news outlets and LGBT advocacy groups, this is exactly what happened.

As Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, declared, “We cannot and will not allow Donald Trump to continue attacking us. Today, we are announcing plans to sue the Trump administration for attempting to remove basic health care protections from vulnerable communities including LGBTQ people.”

"Hell of a way to mark the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre," Rachel Maddow writes.

The Affordable Care Act made a change to discrimination policy, Section 1557, which prohibited discrimination in healthcare based on longstanding federal civil rights law. In 2016, The Obama administration added the “2016 rule”.

As detailed by the HHS press release, which stated, “[That] redefined sex discrimination to include termination of pregnancy and gender identity, which it defined as one’s internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.” On December 31st of that year, a federal court determined this attempt to redefine sex discrimination, as defined by Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was contrary to civil rights law and blocked the rule.

On October 15th, 2019, a federal court issued a final judgement finding the rule to be unlawful. The rule was never put into effect. The HHS finalization announced on June 6th, 2020, removed Section 1557 entirely as it was found to be unlawful. Despite no changes from the implementation of the rule to its removal, the narrative is being set as transgender protections being “erased” or “reversed.” Vox declared, The Trump administration will now allow doctors to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

"#BREAKING: The Trump Administration just dropped final 1557 rule, moving to scrap comprehensive health care protections for LGBTQ people, disabled people, women, and other folks in need of reproductive health care. Our lawyers are reviewing right now," tweeted Lamda Legal.

Practically, however, nothing was changed and nothing will change for transgender Americans in accessing healthcare as a result of this.  As Roger Severino, Director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS stated, “HHS respects the dignity of every human being, and as we have shown in our response to the pandemic, we vigorously protect and enforce the civil rights of all to the fullest extent permitted by our laws as passed by Congress. We are unwavering in our commitment to enforcing civil rights in healthcare.”

Essentially the issue came down to religious freedom as the 2016 rule would have required religious hospitals to perform abortions and elective sterilizations.

As detailed previously, LGBT activists have been attempting to claim that a transman being denied an elective hysterectomy is discrimination as a biological woman would be able to have one. The key concept intentionally overwritten by LGBT advocacy is in the word “elective.” While LGBT activists insist that removing a healthy uterus is necessary medical care for transgender patients,  many Catholic hospitals view it as elective sterilization, which they morally oppose performing. This is the extent to which transgender people would be “discriminated” against without the 2016 rule being in place.

Under current conditions, which have been static since the rule was blocked in 2016, a transman who seeks an elective hysterectomy at a Catholic hospital that does not perform elective sterilizations would merely be referred to a secular hospital that did. Other than that, transgender people simply will not face any additional obstacles or restrictions in accessing routine, specialized and emergency health care as any other person.

While headlines declaring that transgender people are now vulnerable to discrimination in healthcare, during a pandemic no less, are causing a firestorm of outrage and controversy. But as Blaire White points out in The Post Millennial,  it simply is not based on accurate information.

The experience of transgender people in health care prior to 2016, from 2016 to present day and moving forward will be essentially the same. It is also relevant to note that $2.9 billion in unnecessary regulations can be avoided as well, which would benefit all Americans seeking more affordable healthcare.

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