“The stories we hear give real life to the objective data,” Mr. Starr said. He emphasized that transgender women of color were especially anxious about seeking medical care.
He said: “They wonder, ‘What is going to happen when I go to the doctor? Am I going to be mis-gendered? Am I going to be mocked or ridiculed? Is my doctor going to actually listen and respect my knowledge about my own body and my health?’”
When the Department of Health and Human Services proposed the rule last year, nearly 160,000 people weighed in with written comments. Many of the writers were affiliated with the Family Research Council, the American Civil Liberties Union, or other organizations. Others were individuals whose affiliations were not noted.
One doctor, Terry McDole, typified the view of physicians who supported the proposal.
“The issue is not providing patient care, but whether or not the government can coerce me into abandoning my ethical commitments and medical judgment and force me to participate in certain controversial procedures and prescriptions,” Dr. McDole wrote. “Many health professionals like me who adhere to moral and ethical principles, which often reflect deeply held faith values, already face significant pressure and discrimination. The pressure to conform to abortion and transgender ideology can be particularly intense.”
The religious community is not a unified voice on this issue, however. The Catholic Health Association of the United States, which represents the largest nonprofit provider of health care services in the country, opposes the rule.
“While we welcome the efforts to reaffirm the unique mission of faith-based health care providers,” Sister Mary Haddad, president and chief executive of the association said in a statement today, “refusing to provide medical assistance or health care services merely because of discomfort with or animus against an individual on the basis of how that person understands or expresses gender or sexuality is unacceptable.”
Nearly all the nation’s medical organizations, as well as insurance groups, objected to the final rule. Matt Eyles, president and chief executive of America’s Health Insurance Plans, said, “Health insurance providers will continue to work with other health care leaders to eliminate barriers that stand between Americans who identify as a member of the L.G.B.T.Q.I.A. community and their better health.”