The Trump administration has repeatedly singled out transgender people for attack, but one of the most egregious has been blocked by a federal judge at the 11th hour.
Three days before the Supreme Court ruled that trans people are covered “on the basis of sex” under nondiscrimination laws, the administration announced it would rollback nondiscrimination protections in healthcare implemented under the Obama administration.
The Trump administration’s reasoning amounts to the same argument attorneys used to oppose the civil rights of transgender people in the Supreme Court case.
U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block cited the case and added that the administration acted “arbitrarily and capriciously in enacting” the new rules from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“When the Supreme Court announces a major decision, it seems a sensible thing to pause and reflect on the decision’s impact,” Block wrote. “Since HHS has been unwilling to take that path voluntarily, the Court now imposes it.”
The administration has used the same flawed logic to reinterpret several federal rules when it comes to the rights of transgender Americans, going so far as to tell homeless shelter staff how to tell if someone is transgender by using stereotypes and horrendously invasive techniques.
At issue is Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), which bans discrimination in health care “on the basis of sex.” The Obama administration interpreted that to include discrimination against transgender people, since it is impossible to discriminate against someone because their sex assigned at birth doesn’t match their gender identity without discriminating against them “on the basis of sex.”
For several years, the Trump administration has tried to roll back that interpretation of the law, and earlier this month announced a new rule that defines “discrimination on the basis of sex” as “sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.” The goal is to make it easier for health care providers to deny care to transgender people if they say that it’s against their religion.
The rule change was set to go into effect today.