A federal judge in Texas has ordered a halt to an Obama administration effort to strengthen transgender rights.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor on Saturday granted a temporary injunction that stops federal health officials from enforcing rules that are intended to ban discrimination by doctors and hospitals against transgender persons.
He wrote in a 46-page ruling that the rules “likely violate” the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
O’Connor is the same judge who in August temporarily blocked the Obama administration from enforcing national guidelines requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms matching the gender with which they identify.
White House spokeswoman Katie Hill described the judge’s decision as a “setback.”
“Today’s decision is a setback, but hopefully a temporary one, since all Americans — regardless of their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation — should have access to quality, affordable health care free from discrimination,” Hill said.
“Judge O’Connor’s decision to prevent the Department of Health and Human Services from implementing crucial protections for transgender people seeking healthcare services puts thousands of people at risk of marginalization, harassment, and discrimination at a time they are most vulnerable and in need of inclusive, respectful care,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.
“In addition, limiting access to reproductive healthcare harms millions of Americans including LGBTQ people who rely on reproductive healthcare for a broad range of reasons. While Judge O’Connor’s action is unconscionable, we believe that justice will prevail as courts continue to recognize that discrimination on the basis of sex is illegal, including discrimination on the basis of gender identity.”