Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Florida will ban transgender residents from using Medicaid to obtain gender-affirming healthcare, including hormone medications and surgery.
According to ABC News, the new law will come into effect on Sunday (21 August).
Florida will join several other states – including Arizona, Missouri and Texas – in explicitly banning residents from using the medical expenses assistance programme to cover transgender healthcare, disproportionately affecting lower-income trans people.
The state’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) laid out the legislation in June, recommending limitations on puberty blockers, hormones, gender-affirming surgeries, and “any other procedures that alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics”.
The state’s surgeon general Joseph Ladapo previously said that providing trans healthcare to minors is “about injecting political ideology into the health of our children”.
LGBTQ+ civil rights organisations including Lamda Legal said in a statement they would “fight this rule and defend the rights of transgender people in Florida in whatever forum necessary to protect their rights to access health care coverage”.
Gender-affirming care is healthcare. Providing access to life-saving treatment should be based on facts — not discrimination. https://t.co/lioAAjbm20
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) August 13, 2022
Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) legal director, said it was the “latest example of the DeSantis administration shamefully targeting transgender Floridians”.
“The governor’s administration thinks it knows better than the residents and medical providers of Florida,” Warbelow said.
“The purported rationale behind these latest moves to deny medical care to transgender people has been thoroughly debunked time and time again since this effort first surfaced publicly in April.
“Rather than following the science, the data or the experts, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration instead chose to misinterpret studies, ignore evidence, and lend credence to prejudice – yet again putting the state between patients and doctors for no reason other than political grandstanding.
“This rule will harm thousands of Floridians when it goes into effect, and it should be reevaluated immediately.”
The HRC added that the move will affect the care of approximately 9,000 transgender Floridians who rely on Medicaid.
The move follows Florida’s widely-criticised “Don’t Say Gay” legislation which passed in March, and prohibits classroom discussion of LGBTQ+ topics.
Following the signing of the bill, Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of LGBT+ mental health and suicide prevention charity The Trevor Project, said in a statement: “LGBTQ youth in Florida deserve better. They deserve to see their history, their families, and themselves reflected in the classroom.
“Social support is vital for suicide prevention, and I want to remind LGBTQ youth in Florida and across the country that you are not alone.”
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