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Just two weeks into Pride Month — and on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting — the Trump administration announced that it is rolling back Obama-era health care protections for people who are transgender. The rule, announced Friday, will impact transgender patients’ ability to fight against discrimination by doctors, medical facilities and health insurance providers.

Former president Barack Obama’s administration changed federal health care guidelines in 2016 to expand sex-based protections based to include protections based on gender identity, “which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.” His administration also pushed for discrimination protections for those who have had abortions.

Trump administration erases health care protections for ...

But the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a statement on Friday saying the final rule is based on “the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.”

“All of these are essentially legislative changes that the Department lacked the authority to make,” the administration said of the 2016 changes in the final rule. “They purported to impose additional legal requirements on covered entities that cannot be justified by the text of Title IX, and in fact are in conflict with express exemptions in Title IX.”

In the summary of the final rule, HHS responded to several comments that criticized the lack of protection for people who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. In one response to the comments, HHS compared gender identity to political affiliation.

“For example, in the unlikely event that a healthcare provider were to deny services to someone based solely on his or her political affiliation, the Department would not be able to address such denial of care under Section 1557,” HHS said. “Unlike other bases of discrimination, the categories of gender identity and sexual orientation (as well as political affiliation) are not set forth in those statutes.”

The rule summary also argued that health care based on sex assigned at birth, rather than gender identity, is necessary for health care, and insinuated that transgender health care may be confusing for providers.

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