Florida's Transgender Health Rule Overturned By Court

On June 21, a United States court invalidated a Florida law and regulation prohibiting Medicaid reimbursements for transgender medical care.

In addition to breaking the federal Medicaid law and the Affordable Care Act's ban on sex discrimination, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle found the state's practices illegal and pronounced them to violate the 14th Amendment's guarantee to equal treatment.

The injunction was anticipated after Hinkle partially prevented Florida from enforcing its recent prohibition on minors obtaining gender-affirming treatments, including hormone therapy and puberty blockers, on June 6.

State statutes prohibiting gender-affirming care have been overturned by U.S. district court justices in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, and Oklahoma.

According to Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Republican legislators submitted more than 500 proposals this past legislative year limiting LGBTQ rights, and more than 70 of those laws were eventually passed. There are currently regulations prohibiting gender-affirming care for kids in 20 states.

"The Governor and lawmakers are turning transgender kids – our state's most vulnerable population – into a political football," said Florida State Senator Shevrin D. Jones during an HRC virtual briefing back in February.

It’s 2023, not 1963. Standing back is not an option. Just talking about the problem is not an option. We cannot sit back and just watch because these policies that are coming to Florida today will be in Texas tomorrow, will be in Arizona next week, and will be in Tennessee the week after.

- Jones

The rules' proponents claim that they wish to safeguard minors from being deceived by their parents and physicians and later regretting their gender transformation.

"Many people with this view tend to disapprove all things transgender and so oppose medical care that supports a person's transgender existence," wrote Hinkle in his ruling.

August Dekker and Brit Rothstein, two transgender adults and two transgender juveniles registered under false names, made up the plaintiffs. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and its secretary, Jason Weida, were the defendants.

"The elephant in the room should be noted at the outset. Gender identity is real. The record makes this clear," continued the judge.

The AHCA had approved Medicaid payments for the plaintiffs, but in 2022 Ron DeSantis' executive office directed the AHCA to undertake a new review and changed its mind. The judge claims that the AHCA "retained only consultants known in advance for their vehement opposition to gender-affirming care."

The judge concludes: "The new GAPMS process was, from the outset, a biased effort to justify a predetermined outcome, not a fair analysis of the evidence."

"Any proponent of the challenged rule and statute should put up or shut up: do you acknowledge that there are individuals with actual gender identities opposite their natal sex, or do you not? Dog whistles ought not be tolerated."

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