Texas Judge Strikes Down Transgender Discrimination Protection In Obamacare

Texas started the new year out with a major blow to President Obama’s signature “Obamacare” legislation that protects transgender people from being discriminated against for healthcare.

The regulation that was firmly embedded within the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that protects people that are transgender from being discriminated against based on their gender identity has been struck down by a Texas Judge. The same rule also happens to protect women’s rights to have access to abortion services, should they choose to do so, according to BuzzFeed.

Although Texas conservative politicians and judges have made headlines in recent months with their efforts to chip away at women’s rights and transgender rights, this ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor of Texas seems to serve as a double blow for the perceived conservative agenda to do away with the rights of both demographics.

“Plaintiffs claim the rule’s interpretation of sex discrimination pressures doctors to deliver healthcare in a manner that violates their religious freedom and thwarts their independent medical judgment and will require burdensome changes to their health insurance plans on Jan. 1, 2017,” O’Connor wrote in his ruling that struck down the key provision in the Obamacare law.

The Health and Human Services are responsible for enforcing the regulation, but they will have to wait until further action can be taken to straighten out the law to make it enforceable following the actions taken by Texas Judge O’Connor against transgender people and women seeking access to abortion services.

According to the Washington Post, the Obamacare regulation used Title IX from 1972 as a basis to enforce the regulation. That is what allowed O’Connor to take action against the regulation, which would have gone into effect today.

“The government’s usage of the term sex in the years since Title IX’s enactment bolsters the conclusion that its common meaning in 1972 and 2010 referred to the binary, biological differences between males and females,” O’Connor wrote in his ruling to strike down the Obamacare regulation. “Prior to the passage of the ACA in 2010 and for more than forty years after the passage of Title IX in 1972, no federal court or agency had concluded sex should be defined to include gender identity.”

By O’Connor’s own admission, the relevant terms that federal agencies have used since 1972 have never used gender identity as a determining factor for the sex of a person, which includes people that are transgender.

This ruling against transgender people and women seeking access to abortion services leaves President Obama with little time to take action that would restore their rights to them as guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act. Obama will be leaving office in 19 days, only to be replaced by Donald Trump. Trump has also vowed to repeal Obamacare, which has been a major conservative agenda policy point since it was passed early in Obama’s administration.

If Obamacare is indeed repealed, then there would be nothing to fix. But in the final days of Obama’s administration, it is possible for him to take action that would fix the issues with the current regulation and restore rights to transgender people and women who seek abortion services.

There has been no word from the Obama administration as to what kind of action they intend to take, but there is every expectation that he will make some kind of gesture to restore these rights to transgender people. This ruling does not just affect Texas, but rather the nation as a whole.

Meanwhile, Texas conservatives have dealt a major blow to the Obama administration and transgender people in the final days of his presidency, thus leaving his legacy in doubt, and the future of healthcare reform hangs in the balance. Although Donald Trump has vowed to replace Obamacare with “something better,” it is unclear at this time what that is and what it will do to better serve the public.

[Featured Image by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]