Today the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that they are stripping nondiscrimination protections, including protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in all HHS grants, which are composed of taxpayer dollars. The new proposal will also give HHS the green light to fund recipients who do not treat same-sex marriages as valid.
HHS rule § 75.300 Statutory and national policy requirements previously stated that people should be given access to HHS programs and services without regard to “age, disability, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation.” Any organization receiving HHS awards were required to follow this policy. The rule also referenced United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges, adding that same-sex marriage should also be respected by awards recipients. What’s more, HHS is stopping enforcement of current non-discrimination protections rather than waiting for the new rule to be finalized as would normally be the case.
Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center, the largest national trans-led organization advocating for a world in which all people are free to define themselves and their futures, issued the following statement:
“HHS is enacting a policy designed to deprive LGBTQ people of life-saving care. They have abdicated their responsibilities by following Trump’s hate-filled agenda.
“TLC’s Positively Trans program, led by trans women of color living with HIV, addresses inequities, stigma, and discrimination nationally and in our local communities. Their 2018 needs assessment report, Wellness for Our Communities, focused on barriers to health and well-being for trans and gender nonconforming people living with HIV and on their legal and health priorities. It outlines the systemic barriers trans people living with HIV face – and that should be the focus of HHS’s advocacy.
“TLC’s mission is to keep trans and gender nonconforming people alive, thriving, and fighting for liberation. Along with our allies, we will keep fighting and keep suing until our communities get the care they deserve.”