The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) new pronoun mandate, which requires medical professionals to address transgender patients according to their gender identity as established by their own self-declared pronoun, has been called “Orwellian” by legal experts, who said it could actually violate federal law.
At issue is the HHS’ Office of Civil Rights’ Dec. 16 announcement of a new rule that requires medical providers, including those working with federal grant money and Medicare programs, to refer to transgender patients as either “tem/they” or “he/him” or “she/her” in accordance with the patients’ self-declared gender identity.
Legal experts have argued that the HHS rule could force medical professionals to “deny reality” and violate laws that protect religious freedom and freedom of speech.
Heather Adams, a constitutional law professor at the University of Dayton, told LifeSiteNews that the rule “is an example of an Orwellian regulation that will compel medical professionals to deny reality and to remain silent. It is deeply concerning that the Office of Civil Rights is using its authority to impose a new speech code.”
Adams emphasized that the rule “leaves medical providers open to lawsuits and penalties if they continue in providing care based on their own understanding of the patient’s sex.”
This rule also has the potential to violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which prevents the government from infringing on an individual’s religious beliefs and practices unless the government can prove that its regulations are the least restrictive means possible of achieving a compelling governmental interest.
Adams noted that the HHS rule “may potentially be in violation of the RFRA, which provides for an exemption from the rule if the medical provider can show that the rule burdens his or her religious exercise.”
The HHS has not offered any evidence that its new rule is the least restrictive means possible of achieving a compelling governmental interest.
“What we may be seeing emerge here is a new kind of compelled speech code,” Adams said. “We may see this type of regulation become the norm if the courts do not find that it violates the RFRA.”