Trump administration openly promotes healthcare discrimination towards transgender patients

New Health and Human Services department will grant religious and moral exemptions to healthcare providers who refuse to serve LGBTQ patients and other vulnerable communities

NEW YORK -  GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today denounced the Trump Administration for creating a new Health and Human Services Office for Human Rights department for the sole purpose of shielding healthcare workers who refuse to treat transgender patients, LGBTQ people, those living with HIV and AIDS, or those in need of abortion services in cases where they claim moral or religious objections to doing their job.

“Any healthcare worker who has moral objections to providing medically necessary care to an entire vulnerable population is in the wrong line of work,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD. “Denying a transgender person – or any person – life saving care if they walk into an emergency room is far from a moral act, it is unjust and dangerous. Trump, Pence, and Trump’s appointees have tried time and again to establish blatantly bigoted policies that harm transgender and gender non-conforming Americans, and history will neither forget nor forgive this Administration’s attacks on its own people.”

Transgender and gender non-conforming people already face massive barriers when it comes to accessing healthcare. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality’s U.S. Transgender Survey, 19% of respondents reported being refused care became of their gender identity, and 28% were subjected to harassment in medical settings. This direct targeting of an already vulnerable community from the White House is part of a clear and dangerous pattern including revoking protections for trans students, the proposed trans military ban, and reportedly seeking to censor the word “transgender” from the Center of Disease Control budget documents.

This directive comes from Roger Severino, an anti-LGBTQ activist and former Heritage Foundation employee who Trump put in charge of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services. Severino is a defender of the discredited practice of conversion therapy, argued transgender service members “dishonors” the military, and insisted that anti-LGBTQ discrimination is “based not on any sort of hatred but, in fact, out of love.”


  • Criticized bans on scientifically-discredited “reparative therapy” and labeled being LGBT as being “against your biology”: “Unfortunately you’re seeing some states that are actually trying to criminalize any sex therapy that reinforces a person’s biology. They’re calling into question and passing bans on reparative therapy, is one name for it. And so it’s really an ideology that’s saying you can only go one way, against your biology, but if you try to do anything that enforces it, then we’re going to criminalize it.” (clip begins at 20:18 in audio a link)
  • Insists that anti-LGBTQ views are “actually decent and honorable beliefs based not on any sort of hatred but, in fact, out of love. It’s a vision of human flourishing, people who believe in marriage and believe in a biblical view of human sexuality, it’s out of love and because you believe this is the proper vision for human flourishing that leads to happiness and leads to childhood success, and there’s a lot of social science evidence backing those statements up.” (clip begins at 7:15 in audio at link)
  • In a column titled “Pentagon’s Radical New Transgender Policy Defies Common Sense,” he argued that the suggestion of transgender people serving openly in the military “dishonors [the] sacrifices” of “hundreds of thousands of veterans and current troops who were traumatized, wounded, or died fighting against Nazis, Communist aggressors, and terrorists, yet, believe that biological men should not be allowed into the same barracks and showers as women.”
  • In a joint Op-Ed with former Senator and anti-LGBT activist Jim Demint, he maligned the complexity of gender identity by insisting transgender rights supporters see sex as “merely a placeholder’ assigned at birth,’ much like a Social Security number, only far easier to change.” In same piece, he slighted trans teen Gavin Grimm as “a gender-dysphoric teen girl.”
  • Said of LGBT rights: “...same-sex marriage was merely the start, not end, of the left’s LGBT agenda. The radical left is using government power to coerce everyone, including children, into pledging allegiance to a radical new gender ideology over and above their right to privacy, safety, and religious freedom.”
  • Claims pushback against “religious freedom” bills (i.e. license-to-discriminate bills) is “really just a form of bullying.”
  • Stated that asking a student to address a transgender classmate with a proper pronoun is “equivalent to making them say two plus two equals five.” Then continued: “This is the logical conclusion to the Sexual Revolution (of the 1960s). Not only can you do what you want to do without anybody being able to say it’s wrong, but you can actually be whatever you want to be based on your subjective self-identification, regardless of biological realities.”
  • Insists that sexual orientation, unlike race, is an issue of “character.” (Begins at 10:05 at linked audio)
  • Co-authored an amicus brief urging the California Supreme Court to reject civil marriage equality based on religious grounds.