Transgender rights advocates have criticized the schedule for another reason: the coronavirus.
“It is really, really horrible not only to protect the protections against intestinal discrimination, but also to protect the protections against intestinal discrimination in the midst of a pandemic,” said Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “This rule opens the door for a healthcare provider to refuse someone for a Covid-19 test just because they happen to be transgender.”
The announcement also sparked an outcry from the Campaign for Human Rights, a leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gay rights group, which announced its intention to sue the Trump administration.
“We will not let this attack on our fundamental right to freedom from discrimination in health care be challenged. We will see them in court and continue to challenge all of our elected officials to speak out against this blatant attempt to erode the essential protections that people need and to punish discrimination, “the organization said in a statement.
Severino, who spent seven years applying civil rights at the Department of Justice and once oversaw the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, said the Trump administration would defend the decision before the tribunal.
Mr. Severino has extensive experience in litigation in matters of religious freedom. His current office is responsible for investigating discriminatory health care violations.
Katie M. Keith, who teaches health law at Georgetown University and has closely followed this area of civil rights law, said the rule finalized on Friday should be seen as part of a wide range of regulatory changes that eliminate civil rights protections for transgender people and establishes a definition of sex as being biologically determined at birth. This idea “is what they are advancing from all these different political angles in different agencies,” she said.
Rolling back the health care rule has been a cause for social conservatives since its inception, including Mr. Severino, who criticized him while he was at the Heritage Foundation. They accused the Obama administration of forcing doctors into sexual reassignment operations, procedures generally handled by specialists. Another rule enacted by Mr. Severino’s office last year would provide additional “conscience” protections for health workers with religious or moral objections to certain types of care. This rule has been overturned by several federal courts.