March 28, 2019 Press Release

Heritage Promotes Hate: Right-Wing Think Tank Hosts Anti-Trans Event

Influential Heritage Foundation calls the shots at Trump’s HHS; organizes fringe conference on trans youth

03.28.19 – Today, the Heritage Foundation will host an event called “The Medical Harms of Hormonal and Surgical Interventions for Gender Dysphoric Children,” which flies in the face of the expert opinion that transgender and gender-diverse children should be treated with affirmative care.

“The Heritage Foundation attempts to masquerade as mainstream think tank, but in reality, it spouts hateful, homophobic, misogynistic views and policies that pose detrimental impacts to the health and well-being of Americans,” said Mary Alice Carter, Executive Director of Equity Forward.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has said gender-affirming care is essential to addressing the physical and mental health needs of transgender and gender-diverse youth, yet the Heritage Foundation continues to peddle this pseudo-science.

The Heritage Foundation’s policies are as extreme as those of the Family Research Council, a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group. Heritage dedicates significant energy to extremist policy recommendations that hinder access to abortion and birth control and discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals.

The Heritage Foundation has been credited with “stocking Trump’s government” — and that’s exactly what it has done at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Numerous HHS officials are either former employees of Heritage or have close ties to it, and now act as a direct pipeline to influence the Department to take action on Heritage’s radical policies. For example:

  • Roger Severino is Director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at HHS and former Director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at Heritage. Severino’s focus has been defending those who claim their “religious liberty” was violated for having to provide birth control, serve LGBTQ people and perform abortions.

  • Laura Trueman is Deputy Director of the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs and former Director of Strategic Operations of Health Care and Entitlement at Heritage. Trueman is in a position to influence how family planning and reproductive health programs are run, as well as how related policies and initiatives are shaped, implemented and communicated.

  • Judy Stecker is Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and former Senior Media Associate at Heritage. As HHS’ primary spokesperson, Stecker outwardly represents and defends agency-wide threats to reproductive health and has hindered transparency into HHS policies.

  • Maya Noronha is a Special Advisor within OCR and a former legal intern at Heritage. In her role, she helps form HHS policy that is in line with her anti-abortion and anti-birth control views.

  • Maximos Nikitas is a Conscience and Religious Freedom Analyst at OCR and a former intern at Heritage. In his role, Nikitas works to support discriminatory policymaking in the name of “religious freedom.”

  • Rebekah Armstrong is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislation within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health. Armstrong helps to form and advocate for the Department’s far-right legislative agenda. Although she did not work for Heritage, she has attended at least two Heritage-sponsored retreats to discuss policy with the organization’s leadership.

For more information on the extreme views of political appointees at HHS, visit

About Equity Forward

Equity Forward is a watchdog project that seeks to ensure transparency and accountability among anti-reproductive health groups and individuals. In addition to running, an extensive website with a library of research on nearly 50 political appointees at our nation's health department, Equity Forward also runs, which calls on Secretary Azar not to cut nearly $100 million in lifesaving research at the behest of the anti-abortion lobby.