Despite opposition from most professional medical associations, the governor is proposing to strip Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care from transgender Medicaid enrollees, including minors.
Even as he continues to promote Florida as “the freest state in the nation,” the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, keeps proposing and signing into law measures that curtail the rights and freedoms of Florida’s already embattled LGBTQ community.
After igniting controversy with his new law limiting gender discussion in Florida schools — the notorious “Don’t Say Gay” bill that he signed in March — DeSantis is proposing to strip Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care from transgender Medicaid enrollees, minors and adults alike.
For Medicaid, which is funded jointly by the federal government and the states, coverage for transgender care is left up to the states. And under DeSantis and state Republicans, Florida seems to be waging an all-out war against trans men, women, and children.
Not the First Salvo
The Sunshine State was one of the first in the nation to ban transgender women and girls from participating in women’s sports, with the governor going so far as to spread false information and make mocking remarks about transgender athletes in public.
“You have a swimmer that swims on the men’s team for three years and then, all of a sudden, says they’re gonna identify as a woman swimmer and swim against the women,” DeSantis said during a news conference held in Okaloosa County. “And then they give that [his emphasis] the national championship over these women who’ve been training for a long time.”
He also signed legislation forcing Florida K-12 and college sports teams to be designated male or female based on “biological” sex. DeSantis then went a step further by also seeking to ban therapists from encouraging children to change their pronouns, hair, and dress to fit their gender identities.
Attacking the Rainbow
June is nationally celebrated as Pride Month; a time to affirm and celebrate the LGBTQ community. However, this didn’t stop DeSantis from asking the state board regulating doctors to ban transition-related care for transgender minors, according to a letter obtained by NBC News.
The state Health Department also issued a report requesting to justify banning Medicaid coverage for transgender people of any age who want puberty blockers, hormone therapies or gender-reassignment surgery.
“While some professional organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Endocrine Society, recommend these treatments for ‘gender affirming’ care, the scientific evidence supporting these complex medical interventions is extraordinarily weak,” wrote Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, who oversees the Health Department. It’s worth noting that the state’s top doctor has been called out by those who say his opposition to coronavirus mandates is too aligned to the politics of Gov. Ron DeSantis.
According to a letter signed by 300 Florida healthcare professionals involved in treating transgender and gender diverse youths, most professional medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society, the World Professional Assn. for Transgender Health, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, oppose or have issued guidance in opposition to DeSantis’ stance on transition-related care.
Others cite the sad human toll decisions like those DeSantis proposes could take on trans people, especially the young LGBTQ population, which already faces greater risk of self-harm and suicide.
“I was a teenager. I wanted to transition. I didn’t have access to that care. And it almost killed me,” Ashley Brundage, a transgender activist who is the founder and president of Empowering Differences, told NBC News.