In a reversal of Trump-era policies, the Biden administration announced on Monday that healthcare providers who receive federal funding cannot discriminate against care-seekers based on sexual orientation or identity.
In a statement reported by NBC, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Xavier Becerra said “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.”
The decision reverses policies set in place by the Trump administration in 2020, which interpreted “sex” to refer to that assigned a person at birth, allowing healthcare providers to refuse treatment to transgender or gender non-conforming individuals. A federal judge, however, blocked the administration from enforcing the mandate.
In the first days of his presidency, Biden signed numerous executive orders reversing Trump administration policies, including one that prevented government offices from discriminating against persons based on sexual orientation and identity. He had given agencies 100 days to review department policies to make sure they were in compliance with anti-discriminatory protections.
HHS will also investigate complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Providers found in violation of the anti-discriminatory policies can face sanctions.
“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,” Becerra said. “That’s why today HHS announced it will act on related reports of discrimination.”