March 4, 2019 Press Release

Netflix Show Highlights Roger Severino, Transphobic Bigot Who Serves as Head of Civil Rights at Trump’s Health Department

Equity Forward’s research details his official and targeted takedown of LGBTQ rights

03.04.19 – This weekend, Hasan Minhaj’s hit Netflix show “Patriot Act” detailed the disturbing agenda of Trump appointee Roger Severino, who has used his perch to push an extremist anti-trans agenda, as detailed in Equity Forward’s extensive research.  

Roger Severino, Director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has a long history of professionally disseminating his anti-abortion, homophobic and anti-trans views in the name of religious freedom.

The critically-acclaimed new Netflix show pointed out that, “Since becoming head of civil rights at HHS, Severino has been pushing an agenda that discriminates against trans people...Under the guise of civil rights, Severino is trying to deny [trans] people legal protection.”

“At Trump’s Health Department, civil rights don’t protect all genders equally. If you are trans, you need not apply,” said Mary Alice Carter, Executive Director of Equity Forward.

“The Office for Civil Rights at HHS should be enforcing anti-discrimination laws, not weaponizing the law to rob people of their rights. Equity Forward will continue to press for Congressional oversight on bigots like Severino and his boss, Secretary Alex Azar, who are dictating horrific policies in the Trump administration.”

In its extensive research on nearly 50 political appointees hostile to LGBTQ and women’s rights released this year, Equity Forward details how Severino and his accomplices at OCR represent a wholesale redesign of HHS under the Trump administration. The administration has elevated an out-of-touch, politically motivated ideology over basic facts and evidence at the expense of women and LGBTQ people. This shift has been lead by others at OCR, including:

  • March Bell, Chief of Staff at OCR, a longtime anti-abortion advocate who has worked for a who’s who of Christian right-wing politicians;

  • Justin Butterfield, Conscience and Religious Freedom Senior Advisor at OCR, who has said that the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division is working to “change the culture” at HHS to make it easier for entities to opt out of providing reproductive health care for women; and

  • Mandi Ancalle, Policy Advisor at OCR, who has served in senior roles at Liberty Counsel and Family Research Council, both designated hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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.