Tammy Fournier’s family took a stand against a school district’s “affirmative care” model, leading to the withdrawal of their daughter, who subsequently desisted from gender dysphoria. Now, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is drawing attention for its new gender pronoun policy, criticized by Roger Severino, Heritage Foundation’s vice president for domestic policy and former HHS civil rights head. Severino argues that the policy, enforcing the use of preferred pronouns or facing termination, violates employee rights and compels individuals to speak falsehoods, infringing upon First Amendment protections.
Severino disclosed the HHS transgender pronoun mandate on social media, emphasizing the imposition of falsehoods on employees, further noting the Orwellian nature of the policy. The HHS email instructs employees to address all individuals by the names and pronouns they use, reinforcing a commitment to gender identity rights. This directive aligns with White House executive orders from January 2021 and June 2022, framed as combating gender discrimination based on gender identity.
While emphasizing inclusivity and non-discrimination, the policy, as Severino points out, raises concerns about the potential for “misgendering” to result in firing, creating a hostile work environment. A related unlisted YouTube video featuring Assistant HHS Secretary Rachel Levine promotes the validity of self-identity. Severino contends that the policy extends beyond pronouns, allowing individuals to use restrooms and wear clothing based on gender identity, even in HHS locker rooms.
Severino deems this policy as unprecedented and suggests legal recourse for employees, citing the West Virginia vs. Barnette case to highlight the protection of dissenting views. Employees’ rights to faith are also emphasized, with Severino asserting that employers cannot compel individuals to deny their faith as a condition of employment. The policy’s potential negative impact on morale and production is underscored, with Severino citing government employees expressing their dilemma – whether to keep a low profile or stand up against what they perceive as wrong policy.