Health and LGBTQ Legal Advocates condemn State Surgeon General request that is based on junk science and cites discredited experts
Fort Lauderdale, FL – Today, the Florida Board of Medicine (the “Board”) at its full board meeting is to consider a request by Florida’s State Surgeon General for the Board to promulgate a rule prohibiting the provision by medical professionals of gender-affirming medical care. The State Surgeon General’s biased and politically-motivated petition, however, runs counter to well-established medical guidelines for the treatment of gender dysphoria, such as those published by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and the Endocrine Society, and the overwhelming medical consensus in the United States and internationally, and would in effect deny essential, medically necessary, and often life-saving care to transgender people, including transgender youth.
Lambda Legal, Southern Legal Counsel, Florida Health Justice Project, and National Health Law Program issued the following statement in advance of today’s meeting:
“Southern Legal Counsel, Florida Health Justice Project, Lambda Legal, and National Health Law Program urge the Florida Board of Medicine to stop playing politics with people’s health care and not to adopt guidelines for a standard of care to treat gender dysphoria that are contrary to the evidence-based and overwhelming consensus that gender-affirming medical care for the treatment of gender dysphoria is safe, effective, and medically necessary.
“Existing, well-established, and evidence-based guidelines already guide health clinicians in prescribing treatments for gender dysphoria. The State Surgeon General’s request to the Board would make it more difficult or even impossible for doctors in Florida to provide transgender patients with what is widely acknowledged to be medically necessary care for gender dysphoria. The proposal is based on clear animus towards transgender people as well as junk science. The State Surgeon General mischaracterizes the science and cites discredited experts to justify limiting the provision of hormone therapy and other accepted medical interventions, as well as gender-confirming surgery, notwithstanding the clear evidence-based foundation and support for these approaches from all major medical organizations.
“What is more, the State Surgeon General’s proposal is unconstitutional and unlawful, as has been demonstrated by court decisions in Alabama and Arkansas finding attempts to do the same to be discriminatory and violative of the U.S. constitution.
“Florida authorities need to stop playing politics with transgender people’s health care and endangering transgender people’s lives. The State Surgeon General’s request is cruel and reprehensible. Should the Board proceed to adopt the State Surgeon General’s proposal, we stand ready to defend the rights of transgender people in Florida, including the right to be free from discrimination and to access medically necessary and essential health care.
“We urge any person who has been denied coverage for gender-affirming health care in Florida to contact us, including by reaching out to Lambda Legal’s Help Desk or Southern Legal Counsel’s Transgender Rights Initiative at: [email protected].”
Last month, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) conducted a sham hearing on its Notice of Proposed Rule (NPR) that would deny Medicaid coverage for all medically necessary gender-affirming care for both youth and adults. The stacked and biased hearing elevated junk science and discredited so-called medical experts designed to push through a deliberately discriminatory and harmful new rule.
Just a week before the sham AHCA hearing, a federal district court in North Carolina ruled that an exclusion in that state’s health plan similar to that proposed by AHCA is unconstitutional. In addition, this July, legal and medical experts from the Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center and Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, Yale Law School, and the University of Texas Southwestern issued an in-depth report debunking the misleading claims upon which AHCA’s report is based. The report states that AHCA’s report “makes unfounded criticisms of robust and well-regarded clinical research and instead cites sources with little or no scientific merit, including journalism, a blog entry, letters to the editor, and opinion pieces.” The report, “A Critical Review of the June 2022 Florida Medicaid Report on the Medical Treatment of Gender Dysphoria,” is available here.
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education, and policy work. www.lambdalegal.org
Southern Legal Counsel (SLC) is a Florida statewide not-for-profit public interest law firm that is committed to the ideal of equal justice for all and the attainment of basic human and civil rights. SLC’s Transgender Rights Initiative protects the rights of Florida’s LGBTQ+ community through federal impact litigation, policy advocacy, and individual representation. www.southernlegal.org
Florida Health Justice Project engages in comprehensive advocacy to expand health care access and promote health equity for marginalized and vulnerable Floridians. www.floridahealthjustice.org
The National Health Law Program is a non-profit law firm dedicated to protecting and advancing health rights of low-income and underserved individuals and families. www.healthlaw.org