President Donald Trump will reportedly scale down healthcare provisions for transgender people later this week, just a fortnight after his ban on trans military service people came into effect.
The White House is set to repeal Obama-era protections which prevent doctors and insurers from denying treatment on the basis of sex and gender identity.
The existing regulations, which cover any provider receiving federal funds, also require doctors and hospitals to provide “medically necessary” treatment to transgender people.
The White House’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could announce new legislation repealing these protections within the coming days, The Hill reported on Tuesday (April 23).
The new rules are “likely to send an even stronger signal that the administration endorses discrimination in health care against transgender people,” said Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy at the National Center for Transgender Equality.
She added: “It won’t mean that overnight transgender people can’t get health care, but it will be a steady drip of allowing more discrimination.”
ACLU will fight Trump’s trans healthcare law
The American Civil Liberties Union has said that it will challenge any changes to the law in court.
“If the final rule looks like the proposal we are anticipating, we and our partners will file suit as soon as possible,” ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio told The Hill.
“To have the government take a stand in favour of discrimination is deeply upsetting.”
“To have the government favour discrimination is deeply upsetting.”
—Chase Strangio, ACLU
The White House has already announced its intention to allow healthcare providers to deny service on the basis of “religious freedom.”
On January 18, HHS announced that it was establishing a division of conscience and religious freedom which will “enforce laws and regulations that protect conscience and prohibit coercion on issues such as abortion and assisted suicide (among others) in HHS-funded or conducted programs and services.”
Civil rights groups fear that the office’s powers will be used to discriminate against people seeking a medical transition.
“We may not know exactly what this new division will look like in practice, but we do know that this means they prioritise religious liberty over the health and civil rights of women, transgender people, and others,” Louise Melling, the ACLU’s deputy legal director, said in a statement.
Transgender Americans have also been targeted by Trump’s military ban, which came into effect on April 12.
More than 13,000 active service people are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the policy, which prevents trans troops from serving openly.