Transgender: HHS Restores Biology to Sex Discrimination Rules

Transgender boy Damian of New York takes part in the NYC Pride March as part of World Pride commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising on June 30, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s deputies have restored the biology-based definition of sexual discrimination in federal healthcare rules, ending the novel transgender definition, which was inserted by President Barack Obama.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “will continue to vigorously enforce federal civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, and sex in healthcare, as Section 1557 provides,” according to a statement released by the agency.

In its 2016 regulation, the Obama administration redefined “sex discrimination” as “gender discrimination.”

But the definition of “gender” that is pushed by transgender activists says that each person’s legal sex is determined by their personal feelings about their male or female nature.

In combination, this two-step process essentially allowed men to declare themselves to be women, and to threaten federal punishments against doctors, nurses, and others who refuse to publicly agree with their claim to have changed sexes. It would also have allowed women to force people to agree that they have somehow become men.

Progressives endorsed this plan because it gives them and their allies the power to rewrite civic rules about sexual privacy, sports, and social rankings.

Conservatives and feminists point out that this two-step change would essentially eliminate any recognition of women’s biology from the sex-discrimination law. It would mean that men could sweep women’s sports competitions, win scholarships for women, and enter women’s spaces, such as showers.

So the HHS change restores women’s rights by defining sexual discrimination in the context of binary, biological, male-or-female society.

Since February 2018, the Pentagon has followed the same policy and is “maintaining a bright line [between the two sexes] based on biological sex.”

NPR suggested the new rule will harm healthcare for people trying to live as members of the other sex:

Under the new rule, a transgender person could, for example, be refused care for a checkup at a doctor’s office, explains Lindsey Dawson associate director of HIV Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Other possible scenarios include a transgender man being denied treatment for ovarian cancer, or a hysterectomy not being covered by an insurer — or costing more when the procedure is related to someone’s gender transition.

“I can relate a decade of stories about getting terrible health care because I’m trans,” [Mari] Brighe says. “We walk into any given health care situation not knowing whether doctors are going to treat us well, whether we’re going to get high quality care, whether any given, random health care person is going to be terrible to us.”

For black transgender people, [Tia Sherèe] Gaynor [a political science professor at the University of Cincinnati] says, “it’s layers of oppression — it’s transphobia on top of racism on top of economic oppression.” All of that could impact their ability to get health care during the pandemic, she says, which in turn, could have public health implications for all.

This month, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a judgment in a related issue of legal rights for people who claim to be members of the opposite sex.

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