TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Florida health officials have asked the state’s medical board to draft new policies that would likely restrict gender dysphoria treatments for transgender youth as the state escalates its ongoing attacks on treatments in amid the country’s culture wars.
Officials also argue that such treatments should not be covered by Medicaid. In a lengthy report dated Thursday, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration said puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and sex reassignment surgery have not been shown to be safe or effective in treating dysphoria of gender. Tom Wallace, the state’s deputy director of Medicaid, signed the report.
In response, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo wrote a letter to the state Board of Medicine asking it to review the results and set new standards for children seeking “these procedures.” complex and irreversible.
“Florida must do more to protect children from politics-based medicine,” Ladapo wrote. “Otherwise, our state’s children and youth will continue to face a substantial risk of long-term harm.”
Transgender medical treatment for children and adolescents has come under increasing attack in many states where it has been labeled a form of child abuse or subjected to various prohibitions.
Many doctors and mental health specialists claim that medical treatment of transgender children is safe and beneficial and can improve their well-being, although rigorous long-term research on the benefits and risks is lacking. Federal guidelines state that gender-affirming care is essential to the health and well-being of transgender and non-binary children.
Last year, the American Medical Association issued a letter urging governors to block any legislation banning the treatment, calling such action “a dangerous intrusion into the practice of medicine”. The letter noted that medical treatments were among several “supportive interventions” promoted for transgender minors.
This is not the first time Florida officials have opposed such treatment. Similar steps have already been taken by the administration of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, which has embraced the clashes in the nation’s culture war as it seeks re-election and plans to run for president in 2024.
Last month, the administration issued guidelines that pushed back against federal guidelines in opposing “social gender transition” or sex reassignment surgery for children and teens, and puberty blockers for those under 18 years old.
Last year, DeSantis signed a law banning transgender girls and women from playing on public school teams for student-athletes identified as female at birth.
These actions were condemned by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, an international group of doctors and others involved in the treatment of transgender people.
“Florida’s assault on transgender communities has been relentless,” Dr. Walter Bouman, president of the group, said in a statement Friday. He noted that the association’s US affiliate had previously attacked Florida’s ongoing efforts, saying they “lack scientific merit and, in some cases, misinterpret or distort available data.”
“Florida’s health agencies have an obligation to support the health and well-being of its residents, including those who are transgender,” Bouman said. “The state has instead chosen to release misleading and dangerous reports designed to harm transgender people.”