A judge for the US District Court for the District of Minnesota [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Friday that a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) [materials, PDF] that bans discrimination in health care based on sex includes transgender and gender non-conforming people.

Plaintiffs Brittany Tovar and Reid Olsen brought suit against health care providers Essentia Health and Innovis Health over “health care plan[s] that contained a discriminatory categorical exclusion for all health services related to gender transition.” The plaintiffs contended the exclusion of transgender health services was a violation of Section 1557 [text, PDF] of the ACA, which provides that the there will not be any federal money for a plan that contains “denial of benefits on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.”

The defendants moved to dismiss the claims on the grounds that “Section 1557 does not provide protection against gender identity discrimination, and that consequently, Plaintiffs’ claims must be dismissed.”

The judge denied the motion to dismiss, writing, “Because Title VII, and by extension Title IX, recognize that sex discrimination encompasses gender-identity discrimination, the Court concludes that Section 1557 also prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity.”

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