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Department of Health and Human Services building in Washington, DC. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration is set to propose new rules that would roll back health care protections for transgender people, making it easier for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to deny them coverage by invoking religious reasons, reports the Washington Post.

Details: The administration signaled its intention earlier this month in an ongoing legal challenge in Texas, which seeks to invalidate the Obama-era, anti-discrimination rule that listed gender identity and transgender people as protected classes. Trump’s Health and Human Services Department said in a court filing that the word "sex ... does not refer to gender identity."

The Obama-era rule, intended to help enforce the Affordable Care Act, was blocked in 2016 by a Texas judge. Several Republican-controlled states that filed the suit argue that the policy would force doctors to violate their religious beliefs, and the Texas judge ruled that Congress didn’t intend to protect gender identity.

The big picture: This is the administration's latest effort to roll back already limited protections for LGBTQ Americans, as it seeks to adopt a uniform, legal definition of sex as male or female based on the genitals a person is born with. The federal government has also been changing how transgender people are identified and protected under the law. Less than 2 weeks ago, the administration officially enacted a military transgender ban.

  • There has been long debate over whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to take up 3 cases seeking clarity on this issue.

Go deeper

FBI, Homeland Security warn of increasing threat to Capitol

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report reviewed by Axios.

Driving the news: The joint report says an unidentified group of extremists discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

18 mins ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.

"Neanderthal thinking": Biden slams states lifting mask mandates

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).