DeSantis’s Next Move in War Against Trans Kids Is Banning Gender Affirming Care

Far right Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration is moving to ban transgender youth and Medicaid recipients from accessing gender affirming care in Florida in an extreme escalation of Republicans’ war on transgender people.

On Thursday, state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo sent a letterThe governing body that oversees doctors and nurses in Florida requesting that it “establish a standard of care” that would implement anti-trans guidelines Issued by state health officialsearlier this year. The guidelines, which were nonbinding when they were first released, say that, despite the findings of major medical, psychiatric and pediatric groups, transgender children should not be able to access potentially life-saving gender affirming care — and that they should even be barred from “social” transitions like changing their hairstyles or pronouns.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), issued a report arguing against Medicaid’s coverage of trans-related health care for children, adults, and adolescents alike. This included treatments such as hormone treatments, puberty blockers, and gender affirming surgery. The report and the letter allow DeSantis the freedom to implement the bans quickly, without the need for state legislative support.

These moves are an alarming escalation of Desantis’s attacks on transgender people in Florida — which now directly affect both children and adults’ access to health care. LGBTQ advocates argue that this development makes it clearer that actions like banning transgender children playing in sports are not about sports, but about wagering an all-out war against transgender people and their rights to exist in society.

“The new right wing angle of attack is that NO trans people should have access to hormone replacement therapy because it’s ‘experimental.’ Trans people have literally taken cross-sex hormones since at least 1918,” wrote Ari Drennen, the LGBTQ program director for Media Matters for America. “Governor DeSantis’ move is illegal, dangerous and based on lies.” Drennen also pointed out that many cisgender peopleRepublicans are not opposed to hormones that are taken for health reasons.

Indeed, care that is gender-affirming is possible is well-establishedTrans people are often saved by the medical and psychiatric community. Both trans youth and adults are at high risk of depression and suicidal thoughts. studies have found that gender affirming care has positive effects on trans kids’ mental health — effects that last well into adulthood.

In his letter, Ladapo politicized the issue, claiming without evidence that medical professionals who support trans people’s right to gender affirming care are only doing so based on their political preferences. Ladapo is a DeSantis appointee. also an anti-vaxxer.

“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,” he wrote.

LGBTQ activists say that it’s actually The April health department guidelines, prepared in part by Ladapo, that are a nakedly partisan move; such actions only serve to advance Republicans’ culture war and to normalize denying the public their bodily autonomy — in the form of restricting gender affirming care, Abortion rightsAccess to contraception, and many other topics.

300 Florida medical professionals were able to follow the guidelines after they were published. wrote an op-edThey protested the instructions and said they were based on cherry-picked information and distorted recommendations by medical groups. “[T]he Florida Department of Health cites a selective and non-representative sample of small studies and reviews, editorials, opinion pieces and commentary to support several of their substantial claims,” they wroteThe Tampa Bay Times. “When citing high-quality studies, they make conclusions that are not supported by the authors of the articles.”