Federal judge rules against trans patients’ right to affordable healthcare

A transgender woman in a hospital gown being treated by a doctor. (Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly's Gender Spectrum Collection. Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection. Made available to media outlets via Creative Commons. No derivatives, no commercial use. See guidelines here: broadlygenderphotos.vice.com/guidelines)

A Texas Federal Judge has ruled in favor of a Catholic healthcare network that refuses to provide gender-affirming care to transgender people.  The Judge found that the federal government couldn’t seek remedy against the Franciscan Physician Network for denying gender-affirming care despite an anti-bias provision in the Affordable Care Act.

As reported by Law 360 U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor on Monday granted a permanent injunction to Franciscan Alliance Inc. and other religious groups, blocking the federal government from enforcing the anti-discrimination protections in Section 1557 of the ACA against the plaintiffs or withholding funds as punishment for noncompliance.

He found the issue was not moot despite the government’s objections, issuing Monday’s order in part because he said the regulation around Section 1557 still jeopardizes the plaintiffs’ rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA.

Lindsey Kaley, a staff attorney with the ACLU Center for Liberty, said in a statement Tuesday that “gender-affirming care” saves lives. “This is a disappointing decision, but it does not change the fact that transgender people who have been turned away from health care can continue to pursue litigation. This decision only changes the federal government’s options when it proactively enforces the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act,” she said.

LGBTQI people must keep this in mind when choosing employers and healthcare network providers. Catholic healthcare providers are celebrating their newfound power to discriminate and will gladly continue to do so in the future.

This article originally ran on PlanetTransgender. Used here with permission.