LGBT+ campaigners have vowed to sue Donald Trump after his administration erased trans healthcare protections.
The US Department of Health and Human Services announced the roll back to protections for LGBTQ+ patients under the Affordable Care Act on Friday.
The previous rule banned doctors, hospitals and health insurance companies that get federal funding from discriminating against trans patients.
However, the new regulation could make it harder for 1.4 million adults and 150,000 youth who identify as transgender in the US to access healthcare.
Moreover, it is coming at the worst possible time. Experts warn many trans people health conditions that put them at particular risk of serious illness if they get COVID-19.
The decision came mid way through Pride month and on the fourth anniversary of the massacre at the gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
Moreover, it came on the eve of a weekend when thousands across the US protested in special LGBT+ Black Lives Matter marches and rallies.
In response, the Human Rights Campaign has pledged to sue the Trump-Pence administration for the rule implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
Plans to sue the Trump administration
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said in a statement:
‘The rule change comes in the midst of the twin epidemics of COVID-19 and racial violence.
‘Over the past few months, we have witnessed a rash of horrific violence against black and transgender people.
‘73% of all transgender and gender non-conforming people killed violently are black, and seven transgender and gender non-conforming people have been violently killed since 28 March alone.
‘LGBTQ people are also particularly vulnerable to both the health and economic impacts of COVID-19.’
HRC president Alfonso David added: ‘We cannot and will not allow Donald Trump to continue attacking us.
‘Today, the Human Rights Campaign is announcing plans to sue the Trump administration for exceeding their legal authority and attempting to remove basic health care protections from vulnerable communities including LGBTQ people.’
‘Putting patients’ lives and health in danger’
Meanwhile it is not entirely clear how much difference the rule change will have in strict legal terms.
Lawyers were already disputing the previous, trans inclusive, rule.
Moreover, Supreme Court decisions on LGBT+ employment rights may arrive at any time. Depending on the rulings and the exact wording, they may change this rule.
However, the Trump administration’s actions will certainly confuse the picture. And people may use them to justify discrimination.
Sam Brinton, vice president of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project, said:
‘Access to quality health care without discrimination is critical right now. Thankfully, whatever this new rule may say, LGBTQ people are still protected under the law.
‘This rule sends a dangerous and confusing message to health care providers at the worst possible time.’
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Action Fund also warned the greatest danger is not a legal one but about how people interpret the law.
It said: ‘The repeal of this regulation does not change how the courts have interpreted Section 1557. [But] it will open the door – and even encourage – rampant discrimination against LGBTQ+ patients by eliminating key anti-discrimination protections.
Scott McCoy, is SPLC Action Fund’s deputy legal director for LGBTQ rights and special litigation.
McCoy said it was ‘unconscionable’ for the Trump administration to roll back protections for LGBT+ patients and added:
‘It is even more cruel and dangerous to rollback anti-discrimination protections during a pandemic that is disproportionately harming black and brown people.
‘This rollback will put patients’ lives and health in danger.’
Most Americans want non-discrimination laws
Meanwhile LGBT+ research experts at the Williams Institute say the rule change will harm 1.5million trans people.
Moreover, their research indicates 320,000 transgender adults have underlying health conditions put them at more risk from COVID-19.
And LGBT+ health organization the Fenway Institute argues the American public don’t want the change.
Sean Cahill, director of health policy research at The Fenway Institute, said:
‘70% of Americans support sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination laws. [This] is just the latest demonstration of the Trump administration’s contempt for our Constitution’s guarantee of equal justice under law.’
Indeed, the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, National Association of Social Workers, and other health professional bodies also agree that LGBT+ non-discrimination policies are needed.
The institute argues that this is simply Trump continuing his policy of attacking the LGBT+ community. At the start of the year it warned these attacks are increasing as he seeks re-election.