|Trump appointee Roger Severino's anti-LGBTQ agenda could damage LGBTQ health during the COVID-19 pandemic.|
In the middle of a pandemic which is causing more American deaths than the Vietnam War, the Trump Administration is working to remove LGBTQ healthcare protections. And no one seems to be raising a sufficient amount of hell about it.
We should not only point the finger at Trump, but also Roger Severino, Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He has also been Trump's point man in the attempted removal of healthcare protections from LGBTQ people. Last year, he spearheaded an HHS attempted rule which would have allowed healthcare workers to deny basic care based upon "moral or religious" reasons. In November, three different federal courts struck down the rule and one court found that HHS exaggerated a justification for the rule. Severino was pointed out in an NPR article to have contributed to that exaggeration.
Severino's initial appointment caused controversy - although not enough to keep him from being appointed - because he was previously employed by anti-LGBTQ organizations such as the Heritage Foundation and the Becket Fund. When employed by those groups, his job was mostly to undermine LGBTQ equality and safety.
According to GLAAD, Severino:
Criticized bans on scientifically-discredited “reparative therapy” and labeled being LGBT as being “against your biology”: “Unfortunately you’re seeing some states that are actually trying to criminalize any sex therapy that reinforces a person’s biology. They’re calling into question and passing bans on reparative therapy, is one name for it. And so it’s really an ideology that’s saying you can only go one way, against your biology, but if you try to do anything that enforces it, then we’re going to criminalize it.” (clip begins at 20:18 in audio a link)Insisted that anti-LGBTQ views are “actually decent and honorable beliefs based not on any sort of hatred but, in fact, out of love. It’s a vision of human flourishing, people who believe in marriage and believe in a biblical view of human sexuality, it’s out of love and because you believe this is the proper vision for human flourishing that leads to happiness and leads to childhood success, and there’s a lot of social science evidence backing those statements up.” (clip begins at 7:15 in audio at link)Wrote a joint Op-Ed with former Senator and anti-LGBT activist Jim Demint, in which he maligned the complexity of gender identity by insisting transgender rights supporters see sex as “merely a placeholder’ assigned at birth,’ much like a Social Security number, only far easier to change.” In same piece, he slighted trans teen Gavin Grimm as “a gender-dysphoric teen girl.”Said of LGBT rights: “...same-sex marriage was merely the start, not end, of the left’s LGBT agenda. The radical left is using government power to coerce everyone, including children, into pledging allegiance to a radical new gender ideology over and above their right to privacy, safety, and religious freedom.”
Since being appointed, Severino's actions have justified all of the concern LGBTQ people and our advocates have had. Other than the "healthcare conscience" debacle in November, Severino spearheaded a proposal which critics claimed would "legally erase the trans identity" and another proposal which would allow faith-based foster care and adoption agencies to have access to tax dollars even while discriminating against LGBTQ people.
When he was appointed, no one was fooled about Severino's purpose. He was to undermine LGBTQ health and equality as much as possible. It was so obvious that a lot of people - particularly the media - was nonchalant and blase about the subject.
Just how blase and nonchalant will people be if Severino's homophobic agenda causes LGBTQ people to die during this pandemic?