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Biden Administration Restores Transgender Health Protections

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Last year, a workplace discrimination case overseen by the Supreme Court ended in a 6-3 vote establishing that sex discrimination laws also extended to gay and transgender people. However, in spite of this decision, the previous administration took steps to strip some of legal protections against healthcare discrimination offered to gay and transgender people on the grounds that healthcare discrimination is a separate matter from workplace discrimination. While most of these motions were blocked by federal judges, one that went through was the defining of “sex” as one’s assigned gender at birth, which would greatly hinder a transgender person’s ability to receive healthcare. As of today, that decision has been overturned.

The Biden Administration announced today that they have formally restored laws ensuring gay and transgender people have fair and equal access to healthcare without fear of discrimination.

“Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Everyone — including LGBTQ people — should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.”

In addition to restoring the law, the HHS Office for Civil Rights will begin opening investigations into complaints of orientation and gender identity-based discrimination complaints. Medical providers that violate these anti-discrimination laws may be hit with government sanctions should these investigations bear fruit.

This restoration follows up on previous moves by the Biden administration to widen protections for LGBTQ citizens. Shortly after taking office, Biden reversed a policy that made it much more difficult for transgender people to join the military, and earlier in the Spring, the Department of Housing and Urban Development overturned a policy that allowed federally-funded homeless shelters to turn away transgender people.

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