On May 10, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the prohibition on sex discrimination—in both Section 1557 and Title IX—would include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The announcement came minutes before a scheduled hearing before the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in BAGLY v. HHS, a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s “Rollback Rule,” which had eliminated sexual orientation and gender identity under the umbrella of sex discrimination. Co-plaintiffs in this case included Darren Lazor, a transgender man near Cleveland, Ohio, who experienced numerous counts of discrimination from healthcare providers on the basis of his gender identity from 2012 to 2017.
From HHS’ statement today:
“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. That’s why today HHS announced it will act on related reports of discrimination,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences. It is the position of the Department of Health and Human Services that everyone – including LGBTQ people – should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.”
Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization and also a co-plaintiff in the case, released the following statement from Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur:
“We are thrilled by the news that the Biden-Harris Administration will take initial steps to reverse President Trump’s dangerous, discriminatory Rollback Rule, which undermined healthcare nondiscrimination protections critical to the LGBTQ+ community, and trans people in particular. As the world recovers from a global pandemic, it’s more important than ever that every American have access to quality, affordable healthcare without fear of harassment and discrimination. We remain hopeful that under Secretary Becerra and Assistant Secretary Levine’s leadership, HHS will continue to take further steps to rescind the Trump-era regulation and address the harms that it has caused.”
HHS highlighted that discrimination in healthcare impacts health outcomes, citing that “research shows that one quarter of LGBTQ people who faced discrimination postponed or avoided receiving needed medical care for fear of further discrimination.”
- If you believe that a covered entity violated your civil rights, you may file a complaint at https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/complaints