The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is under fire for a new policy requiring employees to use the preferred names and pronouns of their transgender coworkers.
The policy was announced in a staff email on Oct. 11 in honor of “National Coming Out Day.”
The staff memo went on to detail how employees who identify as transgender can change their name in the IT system and can decide to use office bathroom facilities “in accordance with their gender identity.”
Critics warned those who disagree with policy on religious grounds should act immediately.
“HHS today imposed a transgender pronoun mandate on its employees who will now be forced to deny biological realities with their own words or face firing,” wrote Roger Severino, vice president of domestic policy at the Heritage Foundation and former director of the HHS Office of Civil Rights. “Those with faith objections should immediately request religious accommodation and prepare to fight for your rights.”
A group of GOP lawmakers also sent a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra to express their disapproval:
“Your pronoun mandate clearly infringes upon the religious liberty and free speech rights of employees, who cannot be coerced into engaging in political speech or speech that violates their deeply held religious beliefs.”
Under the Biden administration, HHS has steadily veered in the direction of embracing gender ideology in the name of civil rights.
For example, one report from the National Institutes of Health, a division of HHS, says, “Being misgendered (i.e., being referred to with incorrect pronouns) can be an extremely hurtful and invalidating experience. Intentional refusal to use someone’s correct pronouns is equivalent to harassment and a violation of one’s civil rights.”
The assistant secretary of HHS, Rachel Levine, a biological male who identifies as a transgender woman, celebrated the new policy.
“As an out and proud transgender woman in a senior leadership position at HHS, I want to extend my greetings for a happy National Coming Out Day,” Levine said in an HHS YouTube video explaining the new policy. “The Gender Identity Non-Discrimination and Inclusion Guidance is very important, and all supervisors and managers are responsible for helping to ensure it is fully implemented across all opdivs and staffdivs.”
Levine did not elaborate on the lengths to which supervisors and managers are expected to go to ensure that the policy is “fully implemented.”
Severino predicted, however, the policy will be used to target Christian HHS employees, adding that they should “be prepared” to seek legal recourse if they receive disciplinary action or are fired for refusing to contradict their faith, as this would constitute a violation of their First Amendment rights.
The Department of Health and Human Services is one of the largest federal government agencies, employing roughly 80,000 staff members who will be impacted by the agency’s new policy.