Rollback of Obama-era transgender health care protections halted by federal judge

A federal judge on Monday issued an injunction halting the rollback of Obama-era transgender health care protections. The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block in Brooklyn comes one day before the new policy was set to take effect.

In June, the Department of Health and Human Services announced the rule, which it said in a statement at the time is based on "the plain meaning of the word 'sex' as male or female and as determined by biology."  This drastically changed the health care guidelines expanded in 2016 by former president Barack Obama's administration allowing sex-based protections based on gender identity "which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female."

Block cited a June ruling by the Supreme Court on a case involving similar issues regarding workplace discrimination and said he believes the Trump administration cannot enforce its rollback until the case can be heard in court.

"When the Supreme Court announces a major decision, it seems a sensible thing to pause and reflect on the decision's impact. Since HHS has been unwilling to take that path voluntarily, the court now imposes it," Block wrote in his decision.

The HHS regulation rolling back protections for transgender people was finalized days after the Supreme Court barred workplace discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, according to the Associated Press.

The Trump administration has yet to issue a comment, though the AP noted that the HHS said it was disappointed by Block's decision.

The Human Rights Campaign, which filed the lawsuit against the Trump administration's rule, called Monday's injunction "a crucial early victory."

"We are pleased the Court recognized this irrational rule for what it is: discrimination, plain and simple," HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement. "LGBTQ Americans deserve the health care that they need without fear of mistreatment, harassment, or humiliation."

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