Gov. Matt Bevin joined a lawsuit Tuesday that attempts to block a federal rule preventing discrimination against transgender people seeking health care.
In a news release late Tuesday, Bevin attacked the regulation, claiming that it forces health care professionals to provide services that could be against their medical and ethical judgment. Bevin also claimed that the rule, handed down in May by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, forces taxpayers to “fund all treatments” that enable a person to transition to a different sex.
“The Obama Administration continues its attacks on the constitutional rights and religious freedoms of Kentuckians,” Bevin said. “It is both appalling and illegal for the federal government to force Kentucky taxpayers to foot the bill for sex-change operations.”
Bevin joins Texas, Wisconsin, Kansas and Nebraska in the lawsuit and the Franciscan Alliance Inc., a company that operates 14 private hospitals in Indiana and Illinois; the Specialty Physicians of Illinois; and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations.
The lawsuit was filed in Texas against Health and Human Services and its secretary, Sylvia Burwell.
It’s the second lawsuit Bevin has joined over transgender issues. In May, he joined 12 other states in a challenge of federal guidelines to accommodate transgender students in schools. On Sunday, a federal judge in Texas issued an injunction stopping the Obama administration from enforcing its directive requiring schools to let students use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.
“The court’s decision recognizes the danger of this governmental overreach and reaffirms the right of local control,” Bevin said Monday.
The latest lawsuit takes issue with a ruling by the federal health agency that addressed protections against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability that already existed under the law.
When defining gender identity, the agency expanded the definition to mean a person’s “internal sense of gender which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.”
The rule change went into effect July 18 and was implemented to ensure that transgender people were able to get coverage from insurers under the Affordable Care Act.
Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, an advocacy group based in Louisville, called the lawsuit frivolous and said it disregards an already vulnerable community.
“This is a harmful lawsuit targeting a population that is under-insured, under-employed and oftentimes the victims of violence,” Hartman said.
Bevin’s office said no Kentucky taxpayer money would be spent on the case.
His action was praised by the Family Foundation of Kentucky.
“The Obama Administration has been trying to push a sexual and political agenda without proper vetting, without proper legislation and without the consent of the people,” said Kent Ostrander, executive director of the Family Foundation. “We’re delighted that Gov. Bevin is stepping in there to stop this train.”