The Biden administration restored healthcare protections for transgender people on Monday (May 10), reversing a Trump-era policy. The federal government will once again protect transgender and gay people from being discriminated against while seeking healthcare, the Associated Press reports.
According to the outlet, federal laws already forbid sex discrimination in healthcare. However, the Trump administration defined “sex” as one’s gender assigned at birth, excluding transgender people from being protected from discrimination. On Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that sex discrimination protection will now also include transgender patients.
“Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “Everyone, including LGBTQ people, should be able to access healthcare, free from discrimination or interference, period.”
In the statement, Becerra also noted the Supreme Court’s 2020 decision, which ruled that transgender people should be protected under federal laws against sex discrimination at their places of work.
“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,” he said. “That’s why today HHS announced it will act on related reports of discrimination,”
Monday’s action also means that the HHS Office for Civil Rights will now reopen complaints of sex discrimination and investigate claims on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. If discriminatory practices are found at hospitals, clinics or other medical care providers, they could face government sanctions, AP reports.
The news follows several other Biden-era decisions aimed at protecting or advancing gay and transgender rights, including policies that combat discrimination in the military, housing, employment and more.
Several transgender rights advocates praised the action on Monday.
“Thank you [POTUS] and [the Department of Health and Human Services] for restoring these protections, which will have a lasting impact on our community, particularly for transgender and non-binary people, across the country,” Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, tweeted.