Saturday, a federal judge based in Fort Worth issued a nationwide injunction against an Obama administration mandate prohibiting discrimination against transgender persons in certain health care programs. The law was set to come into effect Sunday.

Texas filed a suit against the Obama administration’s mandate on behalf of a religiously-affiliated hospital network. Four other states joined in the case, arguing doctors would be forced to perform gender transitions and abortions despite their religious objections.

The ruling comes from U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, the same judge who ruled against the administration over its directive to allow transgender public school students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.

Charles “Rocky” Rhodes, professor at the South Texas College of Law–Houston, says the two cases are related but have different regulations.

“The judge in this case actually relied on his earlier case with respect to transgender bathrooms,” Rhodes says. “Essentially the issue in both cases comes down to whether or not sex discrimination includes transgender discrimination. In both instances, Congress has said that sex discrimination is prohibited both in the provision of educational services and in this case provision of healthcare services.”

The question both suits brought up is whether the Obama administration has it right in including transgender identity under sex discrimination laws.

“In this case, he’s issuing a preliminary injunction saying that there’s at least a strong enough argument that transgender identity is not included in the term ‘sex discrimination’ that it needs to be heard at a full trial,” Rhodes says.

Rhodes says the judge had an unusual last-minute order come out on Saturday to stop the regulations from going into effect until he can have a full trial.

But under President-Elect Donald Trump the case could also go away.

“It depends on how the Trump administration the regulation is still going to be there because to undo this regulation – since this one went through the full notice and comment procedures – Trump just can’t say ‘No, I’m not gonna do it,’” Rhodes says.

“He has to go through the same procedures to undo it. … What he can do is not appeal the case and say we’re fine with the ruling.”

Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.

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