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HHS rolls back protections for transgender people

WASHINGTON DC — A new Trump administration rule would roll back sex discrimination protection for transgender people in health services.

In the proposed rule issued Friday, the Health and Human Services Department says laws banning sex discrimination in health care don’t apply to people’s “gender identity.” LGBT groups have long warned such a move could lead to denial of needed medical care.

That rule reverses the policy of the Obama administration, which had found that sex discrimination laws do protect transgender people. It faces a 60-day comment period and court challenges are expected.

The Obama-era rule dates to a time when LGBT people gained political and social recognition. But a federal judge in Texas said the rule went too far by concluding that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is a form of sex discrimination, which is forbidden by civil rights laws.

Under the Obama rule, a hospital could be required to perform gender-transition procedures such as hysterectomies if the facility provided that kind of treatment for other medical conditions. The rule was meant to carry out the anti-discrimination section of the Affordable Care Act, which bars sex discrimination in health care but does not use the term “gender identity.”

In the Texas case, a Catholic hospital system, several states and a Christian medical association argued that the rule went beyond the law as written and would coerce providers to act against their medical judgment and religious beliefs.

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