By Max Parrish
Over the last several years, transgender health and healthcare have been discussed more prominently in the news than previous years. Part of this reason has been celebrities coming out as transgender men or women, but the other side of this new spotlight has been President Donald Trump attempting to repeal former President Barack Obama’s protections for transgender and gender non-conforming people in healthcare, the workplace and the education system.
The Affordable Care Act, or the ACA, implemented by the Obama Administration, prohibits federally funded insurance and healthcare companies from discrimination based on gender identity or transgender status as well as discrimination against nationality, race, age and disabilities. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, also requires most healthcare and insurance providers to protect transgenders’ privacy, meaning a transgender individual’s medical information cannot be shared with family, friends and other patients without that individual’s consent. Unless there is a medical reason, a transgender individual’s information cannot be shared with other medical personnel. It is illegal for healthcare and insurance providers to share a transgender individual’s information for purposes of gossip or harassment and is in violation of HIPAA.
President Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services, also known as the HHS, had a memo leaked in late October revealing that they are attempting to change the definition of ‘sex’ from what is currently interpreted in federal rules as gender self identification, to “[changeless] biological traits identifiable by or before birth.” This new definition will take away a person’s ability to legally change their gender and a majority of protections for transgender people that were put in place by the Obama Administration, the HIPAA and the ACA.
Expanding on the previous quote from HHS’s leaked memo, it reportedly redefines ‘sex’ as “a person’s status as male or female, based on [changless] biological traits identifiable by or before birth. The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate… shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless [challenged] by reliable genetic evidence.” This new wording will abolish most laws prohibiting companies from discriminating against those who are transgender or gender non-conforming.
The new definition is expected to be formally brought to the Justice Department by the end of this year. The HHS has refused to comment on the “alleged leaked documents,” but civil rights and LGBTQ advocacy groups have suggested they will take the administration to court, providing they move forward with the change of definition.