Reversal: Biden administration ends Trump-era limits on health protections for gay, transgender people

President Biden’s administration announced on Monday that it will enforce bans on sex discrimination applying to sexual orientation and gender identity in a shift from the former administration’s policies.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said its Office of Civil Rights will look into complaints and complete investigations using the updated definition of sex discrimination.

The previous administration’s HHS policy kept protections against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. But the then-update narrowed the definition of sex to only mean “biological sex,” cutting out transgender people from the protections.

Background: The decision to reinstate the previous protections followed a Supreme Court decision last year that concluded federal laws against sex discrimination in the workplace also safeguarded gay and transgender people.

HHS Secretary: Xavier Becerra said in an HHS notice that the change, effective Monday, intends to reflect the Supreme Court’s ruling in the health care sphere.

“Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “Everyone — including LGBTQ people — should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.”