OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - The Trump administration moved Friday to roll back health care protections for transgender people.
The Health and Human Services Department released a proposed regulation that in effect says "gender identity" is not protected under federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination in health care. Instead, the new rule would designate a person be identified by their gender at birth.
The proposal would reverse an Obama-era policy that the Trump administration already is not enforcing. It is the latest in a series of actions that aim to reverse gains by LGBTQ Americans in areas ranging from the military to housing and education.
Kris Hayashi, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center in Oakland, said the proposal is devastating.
“The Affordable Care act is very clear that transgender people are protected from discrimination, however this rule will embolden doctors and invite doctors to illegally deny care to transgender people,” Hayashi said.
Roger Severino, Director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights said the proposal is a way of making health regulations conform to the law and said transgender patients would continue to be protected by other federal laws that bar discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability.
"Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect," said Severino said. "We intend to fully enforce federal laws that prohibit discrimination."
“The reality is that we should all be able to go to a doctor or emergency room if we need help,” Hayashi said. “If I want to go to get a flu shot, get an x-ray, to get screened for cancer, all of that will be impacted.”
Donna Personna of San Francisco is a transgender woman and a longtime advocate for the LGBTQ community. She’s upset and disappointed after hearing about the proposal.
“I think it's horrendous,” Personna said. “We're on a journey now to remove the rights of not only transgender people, but across the board.”
Personna believes the proposal is an attempt to slowly whittle away the progress made by the LGBTQ community.
“I think this current administration wants things to be as they were 50 years ago,” she added. There is a 60-day period where the public can submit comments on the proposal before it becomes final. If it does move forward, it’s expected to be challenged in court.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.