In new executive order, Biden seeks to protect LGBTQ+ access to affirming care, expand provider training

President Joe Biden signed an executive order this week aimed at expanding access to healthcare services for LGBTQ+ individuals.

The order came during Pride Month. In it, Biden emphasized the need to protect LGBTQ+ communities from “unrelenting political and legislative attacks” and sought to increase resources and access to gender-affirming care for the community. 

"My order will use the full force of the federal government to prevent inhumane practices of conversion therapy," Biden said in a signing ceremony. "This is the first time the federal government is using a coordinated response against this dangerous, discredited practice."

Biden’s order also sought to discourage conversion therapy, a widely discredited practice the American Psychological Association deems harmful. Among other components of the order was a call on Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would protect sexual orientation and gender identification under civil rights law. The administration also plans to expand access to suicide prevention and crisis support services.

"Evidence of existing health inequities and discrimination demonstrates the need for this order’s overall focus on access to health care services by members of the LGBTQ+ community,” the American Medical Association said in a public statement. The organization supports access to evidence-based care and recognizes LGBTQ+ patients need protection from discrimination when seeking care, the statement went on. “At the state and federal levels, the AMA works to expand access to medical services, reduce stigma in treating patients with unique needs and break down discriminatory barriers to necessary care. The actions in the executive order will move these efforts forward.” 

The efforts proposed by the executive order would not require new funding but would rather tap into money already allocated. The order tasked the Department of Health and Human Services to draft policies related to protecting LGBTQ+ access to care. It will also consider whether to issue guidance making clear that federal funds cannot be used for conversion therapy and will increase provider training on evidence-based care practices. 

Within a year of the order, agencies and the attorney general are expected to submit a report detailing progress on implementing the executive order.