The Trump administration is poised to overhaul the HHS civil rights office as part of a broader plan to protect health workers who don't want to perform abortions, treat transgender patients seeking to transition or provide other services for which they have religious or moral objections.
Under this move medical workers could refuse service based on religious objections.
Roger Severino, the Trump administration appointee who now leads the HHS civil rights office, has repeatedly stressed that strengthening conscience protections for health care workers is a top priority for his office.
That's alarmed advocates for LGBT patients, who say they're already fighting to overcome stigmas and discrimination and who warn that the policy shift will only worsen their situation.
"This is the use of religion to hurt people because you disapprove of who they are," said Harper Jean Tobin of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "Any rule that grants a license to discriminate would be a disgrace and a mockery of the principal of religious freedom we all cherish."