State Watch

DeSantis seeks to block transgender youths from transition-related therapies

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The office of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) this week encouraged the state’s board of doctors to follow guidance from the DeSantis administration on transition-related therapies for transgender minors, which would limit or eliminate various hormonal, surgical and other procedures.

State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo told the Florida Board of Medicine in a letter obtained by NBC News that his office found the science supporting these therapies “extraordinarily weak.”

“Available medical literature provides insufficient evidence that sex reassignment through medical interventions is a safe and effective treatment for gender dysphoria,” the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration wrote.

Ladapo asked the board to review the agency’s findings to inform its establishment of a standard of care for transgender minors, emphasizing that surgical and hormonal therapies are “complex and irreversible.”

The same day, the Agency for Health Care Administration released a report denying Medicaid coverage for puberty blockers, hormone therapies or transgender-related surgeries.

The agency referred to these procedures as “experimental and investigational with the potential for harmful long term affects.”

Transgender health care has become a contentious topic, particularly in red states.

Texas’s Supreme Court ruled weeks ago that parents in the state could be investigated for the transition-related therapies they provide to their children.

Meanwhile, Alabama passed a law in early May that criminalized hormone therapy and other transition-related therapies for minors who identify as transgender.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a bill in early May to block transgender people from playing on sports teams corresponding to their gender identities.

DeSantis, a rising conservative star with possible 2024 White House ambitions, has taken a number of actions against transition-related therapies in the months leading up to his run for reelection in November.

“The current standards set by numerous professional organizations appear to follow a preferred political ideology instead of the highest level of generally accepted medical science,” wrote Ladapo in the letter. “Florida must do more to protect children from politics-based medicine.”

Transgender advocacy organizations like the Human Rights Campaign have criticized the Florida Department of Health’s research as inaccurate.

“During a time when people should be turning to their state health departments for meaningful, science-driven advice, Florida’s Department of Health and Gov. Ron DeSantis have used it as a mouthpiece for dangerous disinformation,” the organization wrote. “The truth still matters and the evidence is clear: denying trans youth the ability to transition is dangerous, abusive, and life-threatening.”

Tags Bill Lee DeSantis Florida Joseph Ladapo Ron DeSantis Transgender transgender rights

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