In a hysterical headline, even for LGBT media, Queerty breathlessly announced that President Trump’s latest proposed rule change will kill lots of trans people. Lambda Legal sounded the alarm:
🚨🚨🚨#𝘽𝙍𝙀𝘼𝙆𝙄𝙉𝙂: @HHSGov just dropped the final "conscience rule", which invites discrimination in health care settings against #LGBTQ folks, women, religious minorities & other marginalized groups. This is disastrous. #DenialOfCare
Read it here:https://t.co/r3FtX7Q1BS pic.twitter.com/a7KjUMzmUI
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) May 2, 2019
As one might expect, this is not exactly accurate. Citing The Hill, Queerty says the change “would make it easier for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to deny care or coverage to transgender patients, as well as women who have had abortions.” The article continues:
This is why people freak out when bakers refuse same-sex couples wedding cakes. It isn’t about cake, it’s about all the other professions that could simply decide not to help LGBTQ people because it violates their religious freedoms. In this instance, it’s literally a case of life and death. If a doctor or emergency room worker can legally refuse to care for a trans person, where the h-ll are trans people supposed to get medical care, especially if they live in a small, conservative rural area with only one doctor or hospital?
Let’s Check In with Reality for a Minute
The proposed change was announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in May. On May 24, HHS announced another rule change to recognize “sex” by its biological meaning rather than the Obama-era revision that had added “gender identity.” The New York Times detailed the proposal last year: “Under the existing rule, health insurers cannot place arbitrary limits or restrictions on health services that help a person transition from one gender to another. These services may include counseling, psychotherapy, hormone therapy and a variety of surgical treatments.”
The Obama administration required health insurance companies to pay for transgender-specific services that had previously been considered elective or cosmetic. Roger Severino, the director of HHS’s Office for Civil Rights, argued in the Times, “The court held that the regulation’s coverage of gender identity and termination of pregnancy was contrary to law and exceeded statutory authority, and that the rule’s harm was felt by health care providers in states across the country.”
Essentially, religious hospitals opposed paying for and performing contraception, abortion- or abortion-related interventions, and transgender medical interventions that often involve elective sterilization. This was the case at Mercy San Juan Medical Center. Evan Minton claimed the hospital discriminated against him for refusing to perform an elective hysterectomy on him.
The Catholic hospital morally opposed elective sterilization for Minton. The patient’s transgender identity was not at issue, as they would also have refused any woman who requested the same procedure without a valid medical reason. The left insisted an elective hysterectomies for transgender individuals are medically necessary and therefore other people should be forced to provide them. To avoid these kinds of scenarios, the Trump administration adapted the law to provide more protections for religious institutions.
Truthfully, LGBT advocates are simply manipulating the truth. By claiming anything remotely transgender-related is “health care,” they insulate themselves from relevant questioning. By arguing that the proposed revision will allow hospitals or medical staff to “deny trans people care,” they send themselves down a rabbit hole of terrifying possibilities that simply never manifest in reality.
It is preposterous to jump from a surgeon working in a Catholic hospital refusing to perform an elective hysterectomy on a perfectly healthy female body to arguing that an emergency room worker would deny life-saving care to a transgender person in a car accident. But LGBT people and media constantly conflate the two.
In the above case, the patient’s surgeon scheduled the procedure at the hospital but was informed that due to the institution’s religious nature, they could not allow her to perform the surgery there. They instead referred both the surgeon and the patient to a nearby secular hospital that was happy to offer its services. In the LGBT narrative, this was considered discrimination. Yet the notion that a transgender patient was “denied” care is simply untrue.
What LGBT people are truly arguing for is medical validation of transgender identities and exclusive access to otherwise elective procedures not normally covered by health insurance. A woman wishing to have cosmetic breast surgery pays out of pocket, but a transgender person requiring the identical service would get other people to pay for it.
The Trump administration’s rules change would not directly affect health insurance coverage for transgender-related medical options. Each insurer can still choose what to cover.
What has become a mantra of the left in recent years—that “access” requires fully covered insurance—is not accurate in practice. If transgender people are not able to obtain the services they want at a Catholic hospital, they can pursue secular hospitals that cater to their medical wishes. In the worst-possible scenario, they may be required to pay for their procedure themselves.
In contrast, no hospital in the country is going to turn them away if they have a heart attack, need blood work, or have the flu. In such cases of pressing medical need, their gender identity continues to remain irrelevant.