The Trump administration is seeking to roll back protections preventing health care workers from discriminating against transgender patients.
The proposed rule from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would reverse course from the Obama-era definition of sex to include gender identity.
HHS director of the Office for Civil Rights Roger Severino (pictured below) defended the change, saying it will bring regulations in line with what lawmakers originally intended, reports The Washington Post.
"When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform," he said.
"It’s about the right of every American to be treated with dignity when they walk into an emergency room, meet a new doctor, or find the right insurance plan. If permitted, this rule will promote ignorance and hate that no American should have to face while seeking care," said Mara Keisling, NCTE executive director.
Lambda Legal pledged to fight the proposed change, charging that it was "not grounded in science or the law."
"The move comes during the same week that HHS finalized its Denial of Care Rule inviting heath care discrimination against LGBT people and others, and the news that the Department of Housing and Urban Development is proposing a new rule that will allow federally-funded homeless shelters to turn away transgender people," said Lambda Legal Litigation Director Diana Flynn in a statement. "These three regulatory actions, in one week, are just the latest in the Trump administration’s unrelenting campaign to promote anti-LGBT discrimination."
"No matter how ardently Trump administration officials may want to gut the civil rights protections in our federal laws, only Congress and the courts have that power. This latest assault on our rights will not go unchallenged."
The issue of whether protections against sex-based discrimination include LGBTQ people has been decided in both directions in federal courts, leading to the Supreme Court agreeing last month to take up the case.