The Biden administration restored federal protections for gay and transgender people, giving them the right to sue for sex discrimination in healthcare.
The decision, carried out by the Department of Health and Human Services, was announced on Monday. It is a reversal from the Trump administration’s policy, which defined “sex” as the gender assigned at birth, thus excluding transgender people from the protections the law provides.
Specifically, HHS announced the Office for Civil Rights will interpret and enforce Section 1557 and Title IX's protections against discrimination based on sex to include it on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The update was made to reflect the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County and subsequent court decisions, according to the department.
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"The Supreme Court has made clear that people have a right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex and receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. That’s why today HHS announced it will act on related reports of discrimination,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
“Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences,” he added. “Everyone — including LGBTQ people — should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.”
Transgender rights have come into the spotlight recently as a number of Republican-controlled states have introduced legislation that prevents transgender girls from competing against biological women in school sports.
Many Republicans argue that some care, such as transitioning from one gender to the other or puberty blockers, should not be permitted until an individual is an adult, citing the potentially life-long changes.
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Democrats often allege that Republicans are discriminating against transgender individuals by singling them out.