HRC responded to an explosive New York Times report that the Trump-Pence Administration intends to redefine “sex” to intentionally exclude LGBTQ people and their families from non-discrimination protections. According to the report, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is planning to release regulations narrowly defining “sex” in an anti-transgender way that guts enforcement of existing civil rights protections for LGBTQ people. The Administration’s plans are in direct conflict with a growing trend in federal court decisions affirming that sexual orientation and gender identity are covered under our nation’s civil rights laws which prohibit discrimination based on “sex.” This is the latest effort in a consistent, multi-pronged campaign by the Trump-Pence White House over the past two years to undermine the rights and welfare of LGBTQ people.

“Setting a destructive precedent, the Trump-Pence administration intends to erase LGBTQ people from federal civil rights protections and eviscerate enforcement of non-discrimination laws,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Defining ‘sex’ in this narrow language tailored to the talking points of anti-equality extremists is part of a deliberate strategy to eliminate federal protections for LGBTQ people. This is a direct attack on the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people and, if this administration refuses to reverse course, Congress must immediately take action by advancing the Equality Act to ensure that LGBTQ people are explicitly protected by our nation’s civil rights laws.”

HHS will likely also encourage other federal agencies to follow suit in their severely restrictive and narrow definition of sex. The administration’s decision could have severe consequences for LGBTQ people across the federal government. For example:

  • Same-sex couples and their families could be turned away from emergency shelters
  • A transgender person could have their insurance deny them coverage for transition related care
  • A gay man could be harassed about being gay at a job skills training
  • An elderly same-sex couple could be denied in home meal service
  • A transgender woman could be turned away from a hospital for a broken ankle

The Equality Act would finally add clear, comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people to our nation’s civil rights laws. In addition to having bipartisan support in Congress with 246 cosponsors, 117 major corporations have also joined HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act. Discrimination is a real and persistent problem for far too many LGBTQ Americans. HRC polling has found that nearly two-thirds of self-identified LGBTQ Americans report experiencing discrimination.


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