The LGBTQ+ community has started the week with some of the best news in years: the federal government will once again guarantee health protections for gay and transgender people.
As stated by the Biden administration, the decision not only reverses a Trump-era policy that curtailed the community’s rights but is also the latest step by the new administration to promote LGBTQ+ rights throughout society, from military service to housing to employment opportunities.
“Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Everyone – including LGBTQ people – should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.”
As HHS explained, federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination in health care also protect gay and transgender people, contrary to the administration’s interpretation of “sex” that looked only at gender assigned at birth.
Speaking for the medical community, the American Medical Association said in a statement the Biden administration “did the right thing” by ending “a dismal chapter which a federal agency sought to remove civil rights protections.” But some conservatives warned that doctors could be forced to perform gender reassignment procedures against their professional judgment, the Associated Press reported.
Becerra said HHS will now align itself with a landmark Supreme Court decision (6-3) last year in a workplace discrimination case, which established that federal law against sex discrimination in the workplace also protect gays and transgender people.