The Biden administration announced this morning that the US will provide protections against discrimination in health care based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
The department of health and human services explained the policy shift by citing the supreme court’s decision in Bostock v Clayton County, which was issued last year. In the case, the court ruled that firing someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“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.
He added, “Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences. It is the position of the Department of Health and Human Services that everyone – including LGBTQ people – should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.”
The announcement represents a reversal from the policy of the Trump administration, which had defined “sex” to mean gender assigned at birth, excluding transgender people from the law’s protections.
The Trump-era policy delighted social conservatives and outraged civil rights advocates, who accused the previous administration of endangering transgender Americans.
Dr Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for health and the first openly transgender person to be confirmed by the Senate, said the policy change would help further the department’s mission to “enhance the health and well-being of all Americans”.
Levine added, “No one should be discriminated against when seeking medical services because of who they are.”