Florida has become at least the 11th state, per some estimates, to ban people — adults and minors alike — from using Medicaid to access gender-affirming care.
Florida just took another step toward joining the ranks of states denying gender-affirming care to trans individuals. The state’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) announced the addition of language to Florida’s Medicaid program barring residents from using Medicaid to pay for gender-affirming medical care for the treatment of gender dysphoria. The new rules apply not only to Florida minors but to all state residents.
The rule takes effect on August 21, 2022, and includes Medicaid bans on gender-affirming surgery, puberty blockers, and hormone therapy. Per the publication, Florida is at least the 11th state to block Medicaid funds for this usage.
In a statement made to Axios, Brock Juarez, the AHCA communications director, said that "several services for the treatment of gender dysphoria... are not consistent with widely accepted professional medical standards and are experimental and investigational with the potential for harmful long-term affects."
This statement is undercut by the fact that the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Psychiatric Association, and a multitude of other medical organizations and associations disagree with Juarez’s statement. A consensus of studies and research findings show that gender-affirming care is life-saving care and provides positive outcomes for transgender patients.
Other studies have shown that trans individuals who are unable to receive gender-affirming care are more likely to develop mental concerns such as depression or anxiety and are more likely to attempt suicide than cisgender individuals and trans people who do receive this care.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also views gender-affirming care as both vital and backed by science. “A safe and affirming healthcare environment is critical in fostering better outcomes for transgender, nonbinary, and other gender-expansive children and adolescents,” reads an HHS statement on the importance of gender-affirming care. “Medical and psychosocial gender-affirming healthcare practices have been demonstrated to yield lower rates of adverse mental health outcomes, build self-esteem and improve overall quality of life for transgender and gender-diverse youth.”
The move by the Florida AHCA to deny healthcare to trans folks comes on the heels of numerous pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation implemented by Governor Ron DeSantis, who fabricated a claim that the majority of trans people regret their use of gender-affirming care. In fact, a 2021 study found that the vast majority of those who have used gender-affirming care have no regrets at all.
DeSantis also claimed that young children are being “disfigured” by gender-affirming care, even though in nearly all cases, gender-affirming surgery is not performed on minors anywhere in the United States.
Last year, the American Medical Association issued a statement pleading with state governors to stop meddling in the healthcare of trans minors, saying, “We believe it is inappropriate and harmful for any state to legislatively dictate that certain transition-related services are never appropriate and limit the range of options physicians and families may consider when making decisions for pediatric patients.”
With Florida’s decision, trans people of all ages in the state will be impacted.