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: Biden reinstates protections for LGBTQ Americans to guard against transgender health-care discrimination

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The Biden administration has overturned a rule instituted under President Trump that critics warned could pave the way for doctors to discriminate against Americans based on their gender identity and sexual orientation.

At question is a portion of the Affordable Care Act, known as Section 1557, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. The provision applies to medical providers and insurers.


The Biden administration is now instituting a policy under which sex discrimination refers to discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The Biden administration is now instituting a policy under which sex discrimination refers to discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said the change was being made to comply with a landmark Supreme Court decision declaring that civil rights laws barring workplace discrimination also applied to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

“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,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in the announcement, adding that fear of discrimination could cause people “to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences.”


HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said that fear of discrimination could cause people ‘to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences.’

This is not the first time that President Biden and his administration have reversed policies that the LGBTQ community and their supporters said were harmful. After taking office, Biden signed an executive order that reversed the Trump administration’s ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military.

The latest reversal was somewhat more complex. Under the Obama administration in 2016, the section of the Affordable Care Act was interpreted to mean that doctors and other health-care providers could not refuse service to people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

But roughly two years later, the Trump administration announced it was rolling back the new interpretation of the law as part of a broader effort to redefine gender and sex discrimination. The Trump administration sought to define gender as a binary — male or female — based upon people’s genitalia at birth, with sex discrimination only including biased acts based on that definition, and therefore not including discrimination related to people who are members of the broader LGBT community.

When the Trump administration signaled its interest in rolling back policies that were favorable to the LGBTQ community, nonprofit groups that support transgender Americans reported that they received a flood of donations. In spite of this, the Trump administration moved forward with the new interpretation of the law in 2020.

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