On a weekend when members of the LGBTQ community—as well as decent people in general—are mourning the killings of two black transgender women and the anniversary of the horrific Pulse nightclub massacre, the Trump Administration has finalized a federal rule that eliminates protections for transgender individuals in the health care system.
The new rule, announced on Friday by the director of the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services, Roger Servino, reverses a measure from the Obama administration that made it illegal under the Affordable Care Act for health care providers and insurers to discriminate on the basis of sex and gender identity.
Under the new rule, a transgender person could, for example, be refused care for a checkup at a doctor’s office, said Lindsey Dawson, associate director of HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Other possible scenarios include a transgender man being denied treatment for ovarian cancer, or a hysterectomy not being covered by an insurer — or costing more when the procedure is related to someone’s gender transition.
The Trump rule makes changes to gender-based discrimination protections beyond Section 1557 of the ACA; it affects regulations pertaining to access to health insurance, for example, including cost-sharing, health plan marketing and benefits. The rule could also mean that those seeking an abortion could be denied care if performing the procedure violates the provider’s moral or religious beliefs.
“It will eliminate mass confusion that was unleashed by the Obama-era decision to redefine sex to cover a wide array of gender identities, when sex as a biological reality is so important to the practice of medicine,” said Servino of the reversal.
Apart from the ridiculous idea that this discriminatory measure is about supporting the “practice of medicine,” the new rule from the Trump administration is an especially cruel blow to a vulnerable group of people already reeling from discrimination that often manifests in violence.
Twelve transgender and gender non-conforming people have been killed in the U.S. since the start of the year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Last week, two black transwomen were added to that number.
The body of 27-year-old Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells was found dismembered and with multiple stab wounds in Philadelphia, in a death that local officials have ruled a homicide the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“The murder of transgender people — especially those of color — is truly an epidemic, and a crisis that we cannot afford to allow to persist any further,” the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs said in a statement about Fells’ killing.
Advocates and loved ones who knew her are also mourning Riah Milton in Cincinnati, a 25-year-old transwoman who authorities said on Thursday was lured to a location where she was robbed and then killed—though the announcement by police neglected to use the gender identity that the deceased went by when she was alive, the Cincinnati Inquirer reported.
“She just wanted to be accepted for who she was,” the victim’s mother Tracey Milton told the paper.
Riah’s family has established a GoFundMe to pay for her funeral.
Meanwhile, members of the black trans community are speaking out about the importance of advocating for all black lives, especially with a federal administration intent on targeting civil rights across marginalized identities: