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Florida Transgender Health Rule Struck Down by U.S. Court

Florida Transgender Health Rule Struck Down by U.S. Court

This is the second setback in as many weeks for anti-transgender legislation in Florida, as a U.S. judge struck down a rule and a statute on Wednesday that prohibited state Medicaid payments for transgender healthcare.

Judge Robert Hinkle of the U.S. District Court ruled that the state’s policies were unlawful because they violated the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection, as well as the federal Medicaid statute and the Affordable Care Act’s prohibition of sex discrimination in health care.

After Hinkle partially invalidated Florida’s recent restriction on minors obtaining gender-affirming care like puberty blockers and hormone therapy on June 6, the injunction was widely anticipated.

State bans on gender-affirming care in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, and Oklahoma have been blocked by judges in other U.S. district courts. According to Human Rights Campaign, in the last legislative year, Republicans sponsored over 500 legislation to restrict LGBTQ rights, and they passed over 70 of them.

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Twenty states have approved legislation prohibiting youth access to gender-affirming health treatment. Proponents of these laws argue they are necessary to safeguard minors who may later come to regret their gender change after being mislead by their parents or doctors.

After deliberating for 54 pages, Judge Hinkle wrote, “many people with this view tend to disapprove all things transgender and so oppose medical care that supports a person’s transgender existence.” The obvious problem needs to be addressed right now. “The concept of gender identity is not a theoretical one. This much is evident from the record,” the judge wrote following the two-week trial.

August Dekker and Brit Rothstein, two adults who identify as transgender, were among the plaintiffs, along with two transgender kids who used aliases. Defendants included the Florida Department of Health and its secretary, Jason Weida, who did not return a call seeking comment after normal business hours.

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After initially approving Medicaid payments for the plaintiffs, the AHCA was directed to do a new analysis and reverse direction in 2022 by the executive office of Governor Ron DeSantis. The AHCA “retained only consultants known in advance for their staunch opposition to gender-affirming care,” the judge said.

“The new… process was, from the outset, a biased effort to justify a predetermined outcome, not a fair analysis of the evidence,” the judge ruled. In his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, DeSantis has highlighted his history of staunch opposition to progressive measures like LGBTQ rights.

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