January 5, 2018 at 4:33 pm EST | by Staff reports
CDC word ban invites concern, caution
word ban, gay news, Washington Blade

Medical professionals and advocates are speculating whether the word recommendations will bleed into other areas at the CDC.

GREENWICH, Conn. — The mid-December report initially reported by the Washington Post that said seven words are now banned at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to incite concern among U.S. health care professionals with particular concern in the LGBT realm, Greenwich Time and other outlets report.

Initial sources said that senior officials in the CDC in charge of the budget, at a Dec. 14 meeting, banned the use of seven designations: “science-based,” “evidence-based,” “fetus,” “transgender,” “vulnerable,” “entitlement” and “diversity.”

The words circulated widely through social media newsfeeds as people deliberately used the terminologies that the CDC was told to avoid in its 2019 budgetary materials.

Since the report broke, Matt Lloyd, the Department of Health and Human Services’ principal deputy assistant secretary for public affairs, has denied that there are any “banned words” at the CDC, the New York Times reports. Though the initial Post article blamed President Donald Trump’s administration for the barred terms, follow-up reports differ on the origin of the list.

Some media analysts, advised by anonymous sources from HHS, have hypothesized that officials at the CDC incorporated the changes themselves to assuage a more conservative, right-wing Congress that might take issue with the ideas associated with words like “fetus” and “transgender” when making funding decisions, Greenwich Time reports.

Whether the recommendations originated in the CDC or outside of the agency, there is proof the initial conversation about language did indeed take place.

Now, medical professionals and advocates are speculating whether the word recommendations will bleed into other areas at the CDC.

There is concern that the word ban is related to a long-term effort to overturn the Obamacare provision (Rule 1557) that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in health care, the National Law Review reports. Rolling back those protections has been a priority of the religious right since it was first enacted. HHS has been considering allowing religious groups to ignore some regulations, mostly related to health care for trans people and abortions; the agency has received over 10,000 comments from the public but has only released 80 of them, Politico reports.

“The CDC not being allowed to use the word ‘transgender’ in budget documents could have a cost in people’s health and lives,” said Harper Jean, policy director at the National Center for Transgender Equality, in a statement to Vice. “At best, it means a chilling effect on the work of the CDC’s scientists and public health professionals, keeping them from pursuing the most effective public health interventions. At worst, it could mean a priority population for preventing HIV is completely ignored.”

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