The Trump administration on Friday finalised a new regulation stripping trans Americans of anti-discrimination protection in healthcare that was granted by the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.
The new regulation means trans people will no longer be protected from discrimination by healthcare workers, facilities, and insurers.
The previous legislation banned discriminatory treatment including refusal of federally funded healthcare services based on characteristics including sex or gender identity, as well as age, race, and disability.
As well as coming during Pride month, the move was announced on the anniversary of the 2016 Pulse gay nightclub massacre in Orlando, the deadliest anti-LGBTIQ terrorist attack in US history.
Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, which was responsible for the new regulation, claimed the timing of the announcement was “purely coincidental”, SBS News has reported.
The government has been criticised for the move, which could allow healthcare providers to choose to deny any care to trans people, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic still ravaging countries including the US.
“It’s really, really horrendous to not only gut nondiscrimination protections, but to gut nondiscrimination protections in the middle of a pandemic,” said deputy executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen.
“This rule opens a door for a medical provider to turn someone away for a COVID-19 test just because they happen to be transgender.”
A lawsuit launched earlier this year against the Trump administration accused it of systematically attacking LGBTIQ people by removing anti-discrimination protections.
Federally funded organisations will now be permitted to turn away LGBTIQ people and other minorities based on religious beliefs – similar to the religious discrimination bills being debated in Australia.
A report by the bipartisan US Commission on Civil Rights said the Trump administration is “undoing decades of civil and human rights progress”.