On Wednesday, a federal judge overturned Florida rules that restricted Medicaid coverage for gender dysphoria treatments.
These rules had the potential to impact thousands of transgender individuals. The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, had supported these rules.
In a 54-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle stated that “gender identity is real” and that the state has acknowledged this.
He claimed that a rule in the Florida health code and a new state law broke federal laws about equal protection, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act’s ban on sex discrimination.
Hinkle writes that they are “invalid to the extent they categorically ban Medicaid payment for puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for the treatment of gender dysphoria.”
The judge stated that “pushing individuals away from their transgender identity is not a legitimate state interest” and that Florida had chosen to block payment for certain treatments “for political reasons” using a biased and unscientific process.
An email requesting clarification from the DeSantis office did not immediately receive a response.
In his ruling two weeks ago regarding a law that prohibits transgender minors from receiving puberty blockers, Hinkle used harsh language that was similar to that. A preliminary injunction was issued by Hinkle, appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton, to allow three children to continue receiving treatment.
Gender-affirming treatments for children had been outlawed by the DeSantis administration and the Republican-controlled Legislature, and a law that DeSantis signed in May made it difficult, if not impossible, for many transgender adults to get treatment.
Although advocacy groups estimate that approximately 9,000 transgender people in Florida use Medicaid to pay for their treatments, the most recent ruling involved a lawsuit filed last year on behalf of two adults and two minors.
Hinkle noted that transgender people have higher rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide than the general population. She also addressed the question of whether gender-affirming treatments were medically necessary.
Florida is one of 19 states that have passed laws restricting or prohibiting transgender medical care for minors. This attack on transgender medical care is becoming more and more severe. However, major medical organizations have endorsed it, which has been available in the United States for over a decade.
In the United States, gender issues have become increasingly contentious topics of the culture war, from fights over Pride Month to attempts to prevent transgender youth from participating in women’s sports.