The US Department of Health is Making LGBT People Invisible
The website for the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is supposed to be a resource for people from all walks of life, regardless of their gender, race or sexual orientation. Until recently this was the case, but it appears that the current administration is trying it’s very best to make anyone who identifies as anything other than heterosexual invisible.
The most recent attack comes in the form of removing a page from the women’s HHS website — specifically, the lesbian and bisexual resources page.
The lesbian and bisexual resources page vanished from the women’s HHS website sometime between September and October of 2017, though the disappearance has just gone public. The page, when live, had information that specifically related to female LGBT individuals, offering answers about the kinds of health risks that lesbian and bisexual individuals face.
The HHS also removed links to the resource page from the site's A-Z health topics page.
A spokesperson for the HHS said the page was removed because the information was outdated, and updated information about lesbian and bisexual health risks was added to other applicable pages.
The integration of the information into other pages isn’t as obvious — while you can still find answers, there is no longer a central place for lesbian and bisexual women to go for all of their health questions.
actions speak louder than words, and the current administration’s actions have spoken volumes
Editing and updating resource websites is a common practice — especially for websites that provide health information — but to completely remove the pages dedicated to a specific group of people might be something more.
“The erasure of lesbian and bisexual health content from WomensHealth.gov is tantamount to discrimination against a vulnerable population that already suffers significant health disparities and discrimination in healthcare,” said Dr. Gal Mayer, the president of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA).
There is also a problem with HHS’s transparency — they didn’t take any action to notify site visitors about the changes. There is no information about whether they took down the pages because they were out of date or they needed maintenance, or if it was just a policy decision to remove LGBT-related information from the website. The lack of transparency raises concerns that this might be a discriminatory move from the current administration.
This change to the HHS website is seen by many as the next step in the current war on LGBT individuals. President Trump has steadily dismantled every Obama-era LGBT health initiative. In addition to rolling back regulations and reassigning the LGBT health senior advisor, he has removed language form legal documents that was designed to protect LGBT individuals.
Experts fear that it may not be long before the Trump administration completely undoes all of the good from previous administrations.
The White House claims that their policies are designed to improve the lives of all Americans, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. But as with most things, actions speak louder than words, and the current administration’s actions have spoken volumes.
It may be a while before the reason behind the HHS’s actions is clear — or they may never allow the kind of transparency that LGBT activists are looking for. In the meantime, though, lesbian and bisexual individuals are left without a page dedicated to the resources that they need to make informed decisions about their healthcare. In a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to them, this is severely disheartening, but not necessarily surprising.
April is National Minority Health Month in America. It’s important that we keep calling attention to the things that need to be done in order to ensure that LGBT Americans have equal access to information and resources regarding their health. We need to demand answers and take action to ensure that the current administration doesn't undo all of the good from the Obama administration.
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