Severino — the mastermind of the so-called trans “memo” — has opposed marriage equality, defended conversion therapy, and vilified transgender soldiers.
By Trudy Ring
October 22 2018
When it comes to protecting LGBTQ rights, Roger Severino is the proverbial fox guarding the henhouse.
Severino, as director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, is overseeing the effort to define transgender people “out of existence,” as The New York Times put it this weekend in a story breaking the news of a memo circulating among federal government agencies to legally define gender as something immutable and fixed at birth, as indicated by a person’s genitalia.
If adopted, it would, among other things, reverse the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a law banning sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding. Under President Obama, the government had held that sex discrimination included discrimination based on gender identity. Donald Trump’s administration has already chipped away at that policy, but the memo now being considered goes much further.
Severino has a long history of working for far-right groups and opposing LGBTQ rights. He has opposed marriage equality, defended “ex-gay” therapy, and objected to allowing transgender people to serve in the military.
Before joining HHS, he worked at the ultraconservative Heritage Foundation. “At Heritage, Severino vigorously argued against legalizing same-sex marriage” and railed against accommodations for transgender individuals in school locker rooms or public bathrooms, notes a 2017 profile in The Atlantic.
He has also opposed the Obama administration’s interpretation of section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which also considered discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation to be a form of sex discrimination. He and Ryan Anderson, an anti-transgender activist and author, wrote a 2016 report for the Heritage Foundation challenging such an inclusive interpretation.
“Many people reasonably believe that maleness and femaleness are objective, biological realities,” they wrote. “Yet the regulations would label these kinds of reasonable beliefs as ‘discriminatory’ and seek to forbid them from being followed in the coverage or provision of health-care services.” (Many scientists and physicians, by the way, have held that maleness and femaleness are complicated characteristics affected by numerous factors other than genitalia.) Earlier this year, language giving examples of gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination was removed from HHS’s website.
Continue reading at: https://www.advocate.com/politics/2018/10/22/meet-roger-severino-trump-bigot-working-erase-trans-people