CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On Aug. 18 Federal District Court Judge Frederic Block issued a preliminary injunction against a recently published regulation by the United States Department of Health and Human Services which would illegally strip away critical anti-discrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act. The injunction comes after the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) sued the Trump-Pence administration for advancing a rule that would have eliminated explicit protections from discrimination based on sex stereotyping and gender identity, thereby sanctioning discrimination against LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people, in health care programs and activities. The rule was scheduled to take effect on Aug. 18 but will now be precluded from becoming operative, HRC stated.

This preliminary injunction means that 319,000 LGBTQ North Carolinians will be protected from discrimination by health care providers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity until the conclusion of the lawsuit, likely after the upcoming election.

“…LGBTQ North Carolinians can breathe a sigh of relief,” said Associate Regional Campaign Director Melodía Gutiérrez. “This ruling underscores the importance of protections guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act, a law Sen. Thom Tillis has repeatedly voted to repeal and promised to undo if he is re-elected. But the fight to make sure LGBTQ people have equal access to health care is not over. We need to elect Joe Biden as President and elect Cal Cunningham to the U.S. Senate to safeguard LGBTQ protections from discrimination. Our community can’t afford six more years of Thom Tillis in the Senate. We need Cal Cunningham to take on the fight for LGBTQ equality.”

In response to the preliminary injunction, HRC President Alphonso David issued the following statement:

“This is a crucial early victory for our plaintiffs, Tanya and Cecilia, and for the entire LGBTQ community, particularly those who are multiply marginalized and suffering disproportionality from the impacts of the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racialized violence. We are pleased the Court recognized this irrational rule for what it is: discrimination, plain and simple. LGBTQ Americans deserve the health care that they need without fear of mistreatment, harassment, or humiliation.
“This failed attempt to callously strip away non-discrimination health care protections is merely the latest in a long line of attacks against the transgender community from the Trump-Pence team. [the] victory is a step in the right direction, and we at the Human Rights Campaign will continue to fight the administration’s attempts to dehumanize and stigmatize the LGBTQ community. This rule should be permanently tossed out and we will fight in court to ensure that it is.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two plaintiffs, both transgender women of color: Tanya Asapansa-Johnson Walker, an Army veteran, two-time lung cancer survivor and community leader who co-founded a statewide advocacy group for transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers, and Cecilia Gentili, an entrepreneur, activist, writer and storyteller with over a decade of experience as a patient and health care policy advocate.


Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.