In the middle of Pride month, the Trump administration reversed a ruling that protected trans people from gender identity discrimination. Celebrities joined the uproar.
It was a bleak day on June 12, when Donald Trump’s administration took away protections for transgender people by opening the door to discrimination in health care. The Department of Health and Human Services finalized a regulation that will “return to the government’s interpretation of sex discrimination according to the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology,” per the department’s statement released on Friday. This ignores gender identity; “for transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their own internal gender identity do not match,” according to GLAAD (short for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).
The new ruling outraged celebrities and people across Twitter, given that it changes Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act’s interpretation of “sex discrimination.” This used to include gender identity discrimination thanks to an Obama-era rule that was issued in 2016, but now, these protections have been erased. The move was a slap in the face to the LGBTQ community, given that it was finalized on the four-year anniversary of the shooting massacre that happened at Pulse Nightclub (an LGBTQ venue), and midway into Pride Month.
“This cannot stand!!!!!!!!!,” Gabrielle Union, whose 13-year-old daughter Zaya Wade is a transgender female, tweeted. Ariana Grande wrote “F–KING. DISGUSTING” on her Instagram Story over the announcement, and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called Trump’s new regulation “inhumane.” Michael Urie pointed out that this hasn’t been Trump’s only outrageous move in recent days; the actor tweeted, “He goes to Tulsa on Juneteenth. He rolls back transgender patients’ rights during pride. These are not coincidences.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also chimed in, reassuring New Yorkers that he won’t bow down to Trump’s new rule: “At a time when there is so much violence against trans people, it is abhorrent that the Trump admin is stripping away critical health protections. Reminder: Under NYS law, discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression is ILLEGAL. NY will keep fighting.”
Many LGBTQ organizations swiftly reacted to the sad news as well, explaining why this new regulation is devastating to already oppressed communities. “On a day the world remembers and mourns the 49 lives lost in a senseless attack on our community four years ago in Orlando, the Trump administration has decided to continue its campaign to further discriminate and attack LGBTQ Americans, specifically transgender people,” GLAAD tweeted. The organization added, “This ruling encourages discrimination by stripping protections from LGBTQ people, disabled people, and others during a pandemic that threatens the most vulnerable. It is shameful, unnecessary, and unfortunately unsurprising.”
The Trevor Project, which focuses on suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth and is supported by stars like Danielle Radcliffe, also took to Twitter to explain what exactly is happening. “The administration’s new #1557 rule tries to erase protections for #transgender people from discrimination. This sends a dangerous and confusing message to healthcare providers at the worst time. Access to quality healthcare without discrimination has never been more important,” the non-profit organization explained.
The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) listed even more of the rights that Trump’s regulation takes away from transgender patients. “The Trump admin has issued a rule that will embolden health care discrimination against transgender people, those seeking reproductive health care, and many other individuals who need health care — all while a global pandemic is occurring,” the ACLU tweeted on Friday, and brought up alarming statistics in another tweet: “1 in 3 transgender individuals in the US report experiencing discrimination in health care. In states around the country, we at the ACLU are fighting to prevent trans and non-binary people from being turned away from health care.”