The Affordable Care Act prohibits healthcare providers—doctors and hospitals—from discriminating on the basis of sex. An Obama-era policy interpreted “sex” to include gender identity. Now, the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services has proposed rolling back that interpretation.
LGBTQ advocates say that doing so will open the door to discrimination against transgender men and women by healthcare providers. So why would the Trump administration do this, unless they just hate LBGTQ people? That, in effect, is the narrative in most mainstream liberal media.
The two sides see each other’s views through their own lenses, of course. “It’s clear his administration wants to return to a time when discrimination against women and anyone who faces gender discrimination in healthcare went unchecked,” said the National Women’s Law Center. Likewise, Pride at Work issued an alert that read:
“Like every bully, this president attacks those he perceives as weak and least able to defend themselves. What this bully misunderstands is that transpeople aren’t facing this administration alone. Pride at Work and countless other organizations and institutions are here to stand with, for, and beside our transgender siblings in the face of these unrelenting attacks from this administration.”
But as advocates for religiously affiliated, generally Catholic hospitals have pointed out, they have come under pressure to proscribe puberty blockers to pre-adolescent children, and to perform gender realignment procedures that conflict with their religious beliefs, just as being required to perform abortions not necessitated by the mother’s health would.
These fears are not just theoretical. In New Jersey and in California, Catholic hospitals have been sued by transwomen for refusing to perform hysterectomies as the initial step in gender realignment.
Another argument against the Obama-era policy is that bureaucrats shouldn’t reinterpret statute so broadly as to go well beyond Congress’s intent. “When Congress prohibited discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform,” said the HHS Office of Civil Rights.
Because this issue involves healthcare, which can be a matter of life and death, partisans are in full throttle. But not all healthcare is emergency treatment, and so far LGBTQ advocates, despite their heated rhetoric, haven’t shown that transpeople face discrimination by doctors and hospitals that puts them at risk, as opposed to the inconvenience of going for reassignment treatment at facilities that are not religiously affiliated.