The Health and Human Services Department is proposing a federal rollback of an Obama-Era rule which protects transgender people from sexual discrimination in healthcare. The new proposal, in effect, says gender identity is not part of sexual discrimination.
A local LGBT group out of the Lehigh Valley will be joining multiple plaintiffs as they launch a lawsuit against President Trump in order to overturn or shut down the proposal.
An Allentown LGBT center is claiming this rule change is an attack on people who are transgender, and potentially blocks them from receiving care they need. The Health and Human Services Department said they are committed to enforcing civil rights, including the choice to refuse services.
"LGBT people like all Americans deserve a high quality of healthcare. The Trump administration, they're wrong on LGBT health, that's why we're suing the Trump administration to stop this rule." said Adrian Shanker of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown.
Shanker said he and 14 other organizations in the US will be represented by Lambda Legal in Los Angeles, California as they sue the Trump administration over this new proposal. The HHS civil rights director Roger Severino said this proposed rule will help give "vigorous protection of civil rights and faithfulness to the text of the laws."
Shanker couldn't disagree more.
"For civil rights, for healthcare rights in this country and we believe that HHS's license to discriminate rule is clearly unconstitutional."
We're told the health services at risk are much more than procedures like gender re-assignment. It's possible someone who does not identify as male or female could be refused anything.
"It could be the flu. It could be clymidia or gonorrhea where people aren't being treated because they're afraid of how they're going to be treated by someone in the healthcare institution." said Tristina Fitzpatrick from the Allentown Women's Center said this proposal is an invitation to discriminate. She says people of the LGBT community already have trouble going for check ups on their own, but lack of services could result in spread of diseases or progression of illnesses.
Fitxpatrick said, "Things like STI testing and treatment, and also even cervical cancer screening they're not going for because they don't have that trust or bond with their provider and also again how they view their bodies."
The proposal can become law only after a 60-day public comment period. The Williams Institute says there are approximately 1.4 million transgender people in the United States.