In two blows to the health and safety of our communities this week, the Administration made two announcements – one ordering the Department of Justice to interpret Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to exclude people of transgender experience, and the other, a new rule ostensibly reversing the Affordable Care Act mandate requiring that birth control be covered with no co-pay – which could leave millions without access.
On Thursday, a memo sent to the Department of Justice including all US attorneys revoked the previous Title VII interpretation protecting transgender individuals from workplace discrimination – writing that “sex” means only “biologically male or female,” so that “discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status,” would not be covered.
“The Justice Department’s mandate to take the position that discrimination based on transgender identity is not covered under federal civil rights law is part of a multi-faceted war being waged against people of transgender experience in this country and will even more deeply erode the health of trans communities,” writes Wendy Stark, Executive Director of Callen-Lorde.
On the heels of that announcement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released two new rules Friday that would allow exemptions to the mandate that birth control be covered free of charge.
According to the National Women’s Law Center, over 55 million women and people with uteruses in the US have birth control coverage with zero out-of-pocket costs. The Affordable Care Act mandate saved them an estimated $1.4 billion on birth control pills alone.
“The administration’s new rules allowing employers the option not to cover contraceptive services in their health insurance plans could leave hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – without birth control benefits they now receive at no cost under the Affordable Care Act. It’s a dangerous, and blatantly sexist, step backward in our country’s effort to improve healthcare access,” said Kimberleigh Smith, Senior Director of Health Planning and Policy at Callen-Lorde.