Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

LGBTQ people and allies gathered for the 13th Annual Trans Day of Action on June 23, 2017. (Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

'An Important Step': Biden's HHS Reverses Trump Attack on Healthcare Protections for Transgender People

A quarter of transgender Americans have avoided seeking medical care for fear of facing discriminatory treatment. 

Julia Conley

Rights advocates on Monday applauded the Biden administration's Health and Human Services Department as officials announced a reversal of Trump-era guidance which allowed the discrimination against transgender people in healthcare settings.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra said the department will interpret an anti-discrimination section of the Affordable Care Act—which prohibites discrimination "on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability"—as the Obama administration did, extending protections for people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, rather than just their sex assigned at birth.

"Everyone—including LGBTQ people—should be able to access healthcare, free from discrimination or interference, period."
—HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra

Becerra cited the U.S. Supreme Court's decision from last June, in which the court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be understood to cover sexual orientation and rejected former President Donald Trump's claim that "the ordinary meaning of 'sex' is biologically male or female," in a case pertaining to workplace discrimination. 

"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," said Becerra. "It is the position of the Department of Health and Human Services that everyone—including LGBTQ people—should be able to access healthcare, free from discrimination or interference, period."

Under HHS's decision, healthcare organizations that receive federal funding and insurance companies will be barred from discriminating against transgender people. 

The Trump administration's stance, finalized in a rule that was introduced days before the Supreme Court's decision last year, subjected transgender and nonbinary people to invasive questions and stigmatizing treatment from healthcare providers as well as the potential to be turned away when seeking care. 

"Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences," said Becerra.

According to HHS, a quarter of LGBTQ people who have faced discrimination in healthcare settings have later postponed or avoided medical appointments.

The Transgender Law Center called the Biden administration's decision "vital," particularly as young transgender people in Arkansas and other states face threats to their ability to access gender-affirming care.  

"We welcome this return to the Obama-era policy banning discrimination against trans people accessing healthcare," the group said. 

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) called HHS's announcement "an important step" and called on the administration to pass the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal laws, making clear that people must be protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Passage of the Equality Act would mean "LGBTQ+ people’s health—and lives—can't be used as a political football any longer," Jayapal said.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Sanders: Manchin and Sinema 'Sabotaged' Biden Agenda Because They Lack 'Guts'

"Why don't you have the guts to take on the drug companies and the insurance companies and the fossil fuel industry?" the Vermont senator asked.

Jake Johnson ·


'Still on Track to Win This Primary,' Says John Fetterman After Stroke

"The good news is I’m feeling much better," said Pennsylvania's progressive Lt. Governor, frontrunner in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. "I'm well on my way to a full recovery."

Jon Queally ·


Buffalo Gunman's Racism Directly Tied to Mainstreaming of White Nationalism, Say Critics

"This hateful, white nationalist rhetoric is not just being spread by lone gunmen. It can also be found on cable news and in the rhetoric of politicians today."

Jon Queally ·


'It's a Fight They'll Get': Defenders of Abortion Rights March Nationwide

One speaker at the Ban Off Our Bodies rally in the nation's capital said that Saturday was just "day one of a 'Summer of Rage' where we will be ungovernable. Ungovernable!"

Jon Queally ·


'A Horror Movie': 10 People Murdered During Mass Shooting by White Supremacist in Buffalo

The alleged shooter, taken into custody by police, streamed the murders online where he also posted what has been described as a racist manuscript.

Jon Queally ·

Common Dreams Logo