DeSantis wants to ban transgender care for young people covered by Medicaid

Governor Ron DeSantis spoke Wednesday as his administration takes steps to ban transgender care, currently covered by Medicaid.

DANIA BEACH, Fla. – Jasmine McKenzie says living her life as a transgender woman has come at many costs.

“When I was 14, I was kicked out of my home,” McKenzie said. “Maybe a year later, that’s when I found out that I was diagnosed with HIV.”

The 33-year-old now leads the McKenzie Project, helping transgender people find an easier path, connecting them to resources, like medical care through Medicaid.

“I think people they dismiss the importance of it all and to me I feel like when you take that away from someone, you’re taking away their transition,” McKenzie said.

But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration wants to ban transgender care for young people covered by Medicaid.

“These very young kids getting ‘gender-affirming care,’ they don’t tell you what that is,” DeSantis said Wednesday. “It’s that they’re actually giving very young girls double mastectomies, they want to castrate these young boys.”

The state’s Board of Medicine is set to meet Friday at the Dania Beach Marriott hotel to discuss further steps on a proposed ban, which could go beyond just children.

Civil rights groups estimate roughly 9,000 transgender people in Florida could be affected.

Medicaid currently covers transgender medical care like puberty blockers, hormones and sex reassignment treatments.

But the state agency responsible for Medicaid recently published a lengthy report, claiming those services don’t meet their standard of a “medical necessity.”

Adding that the treatments for gender dysphoria are “experimental” and “investigational” with “potential harm.”

“I think these doctors need to get sued for what’s happening,” DeSantis said.

But Florida’s chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has come out rejecting the proposed ban.

A team of doctors and legal experts with Yale University is also rebuking it, calling it “thoroughly flawed” with “no scientific weight.”

Jeanette Jennings, the mother of South Florida reality star Jazz Jennings, whose television show has documented her transition, is speaking out against the proposal.

“Jazz will tell you herself that she might not be with us today if she did not have the hormone blockers,” Jennings said.

Jennings says transgender care can be life saving for children like her daughter, who are statistically more likely to attempt suicide over their non-LGBTQ peers.

HELPFUL LINKS

Florida Board of Medicine Upcoming Meetings

FDOH: Treatment of Gender Dysphoria for Children and Adolescents

AHCA: Generally Accepted Professional Medical Standards Determination on the Treatment of Gender Dysphoria

Yale School of Medicine: Flawed Medicaid Report in Florida

FCAAP rejects new Florida Department of Health guidelines on gender-affirming care for youth


About the Author:

Christian De La Rosa joined Local 10 News in April 2017 after spending time as a reporter and anchor in Atlanta, San Diego, Orlando and Panama City Beach.