HHS Rules the Day


HHS Rules the Day

May 24, 2019

It’s been three years since Barack Obama tried to magically change the definition of “sex” without Congress’s input. For President Trump’s team, it’s a mess they’ve been trying to mop up since he won the election. From school bathrooms to insurance plans, this administration has spent the better part of its first term righting the LGBT wrongs of the last administration. And today, Health and Human Services (HHS) turned back the clocks on one of the biggest: gender identity in health care.

“When Congress prohibited ‘sex discrimination,’ it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform,” said Office of Civil Rights Director Roger Severino. “The American people want vigorous protection of civil rights and faithfulness to the text of the laws passed by their representatives,” said Severino. “The proposed rule would accomplish both goals.”

Under the Obama rule, gender wasn’t based on objective, biological realities. And if you were a doctor, nurse, or clinician who disagreed, you’d have been punished. Like most liberals, the 44th president thought health care providers should be forced to provide things like gender reassignment surgeries – even if it was against their beliefs or harmful to the patient. President Trump wasted no time putting the brakes on his predecessor’s war on conscience. For the purposes of his administration, the Justice Department explained, “sex discrimination” would not include “gender identity.”

Laura Durso, vice president of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress, told the Washington Post that HHS’s interpretation of that policy would give hospitals and insurers “a sweeping license to discriminate” – which is ridiculous, FRC’s Mary Beth Waddell points out, since Obama’s rule was under injunction. “So it’s never gone into effect,” she said, “Meaning that it will not change the way anyone has received service.”

In the meantime, Dr. Michelle Cretella, head of the American College of Pediatricians, is relieved. Gender identity, she’s explained, is a very real threat to modern health care – not the other way around. “Transgenders are saying, ‘I think and feel this way, therefore, I am.’ And it’s one thing for us to, as physicians, treat the person with respect and honor their name change, but it would be a complete malpractice to treat them as the opposite sex.”

As she explains, there is nothing any of us can do to change our binary, biologically-determined-at-conception sex. “A man on estrogen is not a woman. He is a man with a male physiology on estrogen, and that’s how a physician must approach him.” The very serious problem, she points out, is that people are so ideologically-driven that they want to ignore the medical research. More than ever, Dr. Cretella says, “Medicine is at the point now where we understand that men and women have -- at a minimum -- 6,500 genetic differences between us. And this impacts every cell of our bodies – our organ systems, how diseases manifest, how we diagnose, and even treat in some cases.”

Treating a person differently based on their feelings isn’t just harmful, she argues, but deadly. In cases like heart disease, certain drugs can endanger women and not men. Even diagnoses present differently in men and women. The symptoms for certain diseases, she explains, can manifest themselves in completely opposite ways. “And these are nuances that medicine is finally studying and bringing to light. And it’s actually ironic that the transgender movement [is] so anti-science.”

“There is absolutely no rigorous science that has found a trait called ‘gender identity’ in the brain, body, or DNA. Now sex -- I can show you that. It’s in our chromosomes. It’s in the body. It’s in the reproductive organs. Over 99.98 percent of the times, our sexual development is clearly and unambiguously either male or female.” The sex differences, she explains are real and consequential.

If she had one message for America, Dr. Cretella said, it would be this: “Stick with science.” Thank goodness for us, the president has.


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


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