Transgender people will again be protected by sex discrimination legislation in healthcare after the Biden administration overturned a Trump-era rule that tried to limit the definition of gender.
“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,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in a statement on Monday.
Becerra announced that HHS will now interpret prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Trump administration had narrowed that definition to only protect against discrimination of sex assigned at birth, therefore permitting healthcare discrimination against LGBTQ people.
"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," said Becerra.
The previous Trump laws meant that healthcare providers and insurance companies were not punished for discriminating against patients for being transgender.
The change is a return to discrimination protections in healthcare that were first implemented during the Obama administration.
In announcing the change, HHS pointed to a landmark Supreme Court decision from 2020, Bostock v. Clayton County, which ruled that trans people could not be discriminated against in the workplace.
Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, senior attorney and health care strategist for Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ civil rights group, applauded the move, but said there were further protections needed.
"Today, the Biden administration and HHS provided some needed clarity after the Trump administration did everything it could to undermine and muck up the law to target and hurt our communities, in particular, transgender patients," Gonzalez-Pagan said.
Becerra's move comes as Republican-led states across the country are attempting to introduce legislation to discriminate against trans people, including banning trans girls from playing in school sports.