Less than two days after a federal judge in Fort Worth issued an injunction halting enforcement the Obama administration’s guidelines for school districts on transgender students and issues, in a lawsuit filed by 13 states led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Paxton announced today (Tuesday, Aug. 23), that his has filed yet another lawsuit against the federal government, this time targeting proper health care for transgender people.
In July, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services implemented a new regulation intended to protect transgender people from discrimination in the provision of healthcare, The new regulation notes that the term “sex” in the Affordable Healthcare Act includes gender identity, when it comes to prohibiting discrimination.
According to the HHS website, the new regulations require that women have equal access to the health care they receive and the insurance they obtain, and make clear that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on gender identity. That means individuals cannot be denied health care or health coverage based on their sex, including their gender identity; that individuals must be treated consistent with their gender identity, including in access to facilities; that sex-specific health care cannot be denied or limited just because the person seeking such services identifies as belonging to another gender (For example, a provider may not deny an individual treatment for ovarian cancer, based on the individual’s identification as a transgender man, where the treatment is medically indicated), and that “explicit categorical exclusions in coverage for all health care services related to gender transition are facially discriminatory. Other exclusions for gender transition care will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.”
Ken Paxton, however, sees things a bit differently. In a press release announcing his newest lawsuit against the Obama administration, he claims to be battling “against yet another Obama Administration regulatory overreach that is invading the coffers of Texas, as well as violating the medical judgment and conscience rights of doctors and health care professionals across the country.”
Paxton claims that when enacting the Affordable Health Care Act, Congress intended the term “sex” to denote a biological category. And now, “The Obama Administration [is trying] to redefine the law so that the term ‘sex’ means ones’ ‘internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither or a combination of male and female.’ But the President does not have the power to rewrite the law.”
Paxton’s press release says the new rules could have significant impact on Texas and health care workers because it requires taxpayers to fund “all treatments designed to transition to a different sex,” and it “forces health care workers, including physicians, to provide controversial services.”
The press release continues, “Under the new rule, a physician that believes that certain treatments are not in a patient’s best medical interests may be in violation of federal law. And a physician that, for religious or conscientious reasons cannot perform a particular procedure, chooses to instead refer a patient to another health care provider may be determined to be in violation of this new rule.”
Directly quoting Paxton, the press release says, “This is the thirteenth lawsuit I have been forced to bring against the Obama Administration’s continued threats on constitutional rights of Texans. The federal government has no right to force Texans to pay for medical procedures designed to change a person’s sex. I am disappointed in the Obama Administration’s lack of consideration for medical professionals who believe that engaging in such procedures or treatment violates their Hippocratic Oath, their conscience or their personal religious beliefs, which are protected by the Constitution and federal law.”
Paxton made no mention, however, of his and other Republicans’ efforts to interfere with the doctor/patient relationship when it comes to abortion and other medical treatments/issues affecting women. He also made no mention of the fact that while he continues to waste taxpayer money by filing politically-motivated lawsuits against the federal government, specifically targeting LGBT people in many cases, he has been soliciting donations from individuals and corporations to pay his own legal bills associated with the state and federal securities fraud charges against him. That includes, by the way, a $100,000 donation from the CEO of a company that was under investigation by the AG’s Office.
Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director for the ACLU of Texas, issued a statement today about Paxton’s latest lawsuit, noting that, “Yesterday Texas’ leaders patted themselves on the back for convincing a federal court that transgender schoolchildren should be excluded from the protections of Title IX. Today, the state filed another suit in the same court, this time challenging federal protections intended to shield transgender people from discrimination in healthcare services. We don’t know what else the state has in store, but the people of Texas will not stand idly by and let the state make transgender Texans into second-class citizens with no legal recourse when they face stigma and bias.
“Texas is better than this. This is not who we are,” Robertson said.