The Department of Health and Human Services on Monday announced that it will protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in health care, reversing a Trump-era policy.
The HHS’ Office for Civil Rights said it would interpret and enforce Section 1557 and Title IX’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
FLASHBACK: HHS REVERSES OBAMACARE RULE THAT INCLUDED ABORTION, GENDER IDENTITY IN SEX DISCRIMINATION PROTECTIONS
Section 1557 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in covered health programs or activities.
The move affirms that federal laws forbidding sex discrimination in health care also protect gay and transgender people. The Trump administration had defined “sex” to mean gender assigned at birth, thereby excluding transgender people from the law’s umbrella of protection.
“Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said Monday. “It is the position of the Department of Health and Human Services that everyone – including LGBTQ people – should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.”
In 2023, Trump’s HHS finalized a regulation that overturned Obama-era protections for transgender people against sex discrimination in health care. That policy shift redefined gender as a person’s biological sex, whereas an Obama-era regulation defined sex as “one’s internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.”