On Friday, the Trump Administration declared its intention to rollback Obama-era protections for transgendered Americans and others in seeking healthcare. Under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, “discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability” is prohibited. Under a 2016 law, sex-based discrimination was defined as including discriminating based on gender identity and previous termination of pregnancy.

Roger Severino, director of HHS’s Office for Civil Rights, issued a statement, saying, “When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform.” Jocelyn Samuels, the former director, stated that under her leadership, “We determined based on extensive analysis of the law and the way that the law had been applied under employment discrimination laws and education discrimination laws that sex discrimination included not just discrimination against women and men, but also discrimination based on sex stereotyping and gender identity.” Samuels, now the director of the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, argued that the proposed law is “extraordinarily damaging” to transgender Americans.
A study by the Williams Institute found that nearly 780,000 transgender people live in states which lack legal protections from gender identity based discrimination.

This latest step is only a continuation of a pattern of behavior undertaken by this administration to attack Obama-era protections for LGBTQ Americans, especially transgender Americans. In 2017, Trump announced that transgender people would no longer be allowed to serve in the Armed Forces, and despite numerous legal challenges, the Supreme Court has allowed the ban to go into effect until lower courts make their rulings. A new rule was also proposed this week by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, allowing federally funded homeless shelters to consider sex gender identity in deciding accommodation requests.

The Human Rights Campaign cites a study showing that nearly 70% of transgender patients have experienced some form of discrimination in a health care setting. With this proposed rule, the number could rise even higher.