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Biden Administration Says Health Care Discrimination Against LGBTQ+ People Is Illegal, Michigan Leaders React

Jason A. Michael

The Biden administration announced yesterday that Donald Trump-era policies discriminating against LGBTQ+ people in health care are being rolled back. The decision means that the Department of Health and Human Services is back in line with Obama-era policy and will interpret federal laws forbidding health care discrimination as including gay and transgender people as a protected class.

Under Trump, "sex" was defined as the gender one is assigned at birth. That definition left the transgender community vulnerable and unprotected.

"Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences," said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. "Everyone — including LGBTQ people — should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period."

The policy shift not only restored Obama-era protections, it means the HHS is in line with the Supreme Court's decision last year in a workplace discrimination case that determined federal laws against sex discrimination on the job protected LGBTQ+ individuals. Even after the case handed a victory to the LGBTQ+ community, Trump tried to cut back on legal protections against health care discrimination by defining "sex" as the biological gender as determined at birth. A federal judge intervened and kept the new Trump policy from taking effect, though the Trump administration continued to argue that the Supreme Court ruling on employment was different from discriminating in health care.

But as Biden continues to undo the harms to LGBTQ+ people Trump put in place, trans leaders here in Michigan are applauding the president and his new policy.

"President Biden is really coming through on his promises," said Transgender Michigan Executive Director Rachel Crandall. "He is proving that he isn't only just talk. Our community is so pleased by his actions."

Michelle Fox-Phillips, executive director of the Gender-Identity Network Alliance agreed.

"I think this is awesome, and I can't say enough, that he's rolling back all these anti-trans regulations that No. 45 has put in place."

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