Politically appointed Florida Board of Medicine will weigh up against blocking transgender treatment for young people

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo have pushed for a rule to ban transgender treatment for young people. (Florida Channel)

The Florida Board of Medicine is scheduled for Friday to consider a proposal by the administration from Chief Executive Ron DeSantis to ban doctors from providing treatments such as hormone therapy and anti-pubertal drugs to transgender youth.

The state’s health ministry last week filed a petition asking the board, which regulates doctors, to initiate a rule-making process on the controversial issue. The move came as the state health administration agency also plans to prevent the Medicaid program from covering such treatments for gender dysphoria.

The petition, which is on the agenda for a meeting of the Board of Medicine in Broward County, proposes a so-called “standard of care” that would ban patients under the age of 18 from undergoing gender reassignment surgery and puberty blocking, hormone and hormone treatments. ‘antagonistic’ treatments. It would also require older patients to sign a consent form and then wait 24 hours before starting such treatments.

[The Board of Medicine consists of 15 members appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Florida Senate, according to the organization’s website.]

Signed by Health Department General Counsel John Wilson, the petition pointed to what it said was a “lack of quality evidence and certainly not conclusive research to support the medical transition of children to the opposite sex as a treatment for gender dysphoria.”

“Children do not have the cognitive or emotional maturity to understand the consequences of these drastic and irreversible procedures,” the petition said.

But in a July 14 letter to Board of Medicine chairman David Diamond and other board members, a group of professors and clinicians from Yale University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Texas Southwestern disputed the state’s conclusions. on treatments for gender dysphoria. The letter also said that establishing a standard of care to prevent such treatments would violate legal protections “against discrimination and harm tens of thousands of Floridians.”

“We are concerned that any action by the Board (of Medicine) to ban or curtail standard Florida medical care for individuals with gender dysphoria would set an alarming national precedent,” the letter said.

The federal government defines gender dysphoria clinically as “significant distress a person can feel when the gender or gender assigned at birth is not the same as their identity.”

But the treatment of transgender people, and youth in particular, has become a hotly debated political topic in Florida and other states. Prominent medical groups and the Biden administration support treatments for gender dysphoria, while many Republicans such as DeSantis have argued that the treatments should not be given to those under 18.

Last week’s petition, filed with the Board of Medicine, was rooted in guidelines issued by the Department of Health on April 20 that treatments such as puberty-blocking drugs and hormone therapy should not be used on transgender youth. Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo also issued a statement at the time rejecting federal guidelines supporting the treatment of transgender youth.

“It was about injecting political ideology into the health of our children,” Ladapo said. “Children experiencing gender dysphoria should be supported by family and seek counseling, not be forced into an irreversible decision before they turn 18.”

The Agency for Health Care Administration, which runs most of the Medicaid program, used the Department of Health guidelines as a springboard to propose a rule that would block Medicaid coverage for the treatments.

In turn, the Department of Health petition last week cited a report the Agency for Health Care Administration has used to support the proposed Medicaid rule.

That report, whose authors include physicians and researchers who oppose medical care for gender dysphoria, said the Medicaid program “determined that research supporting gender reassignment treatment is insufficient to demonstrate efficacy and safety.”

But Yale, University of Alabama at Birmingham and University of Texas Southwestern professors and clinicians released a report last month sharply criticizing the report used by the Agency for Health Care Administration.

“We are alarmed that the Florida health agency has passed a so-called scientific report that so blatantly violates the basic principles of scientific research,” the professors and clinicians wrote. “The report makes false statements and contains glaring errors related to science, statistical methods and medicine.”

In preparation for Friday’s meeting, the Board of Medicine posted 1,113 pages of documents on its website related to the treatment of gender dysphoria. Together with the petition, those documents contain numerous studies on treatment.

The petition is a first step in a process that includes drafting the details of a proposed standard of care rule and taking public comments.

—Jim Saunders, Florida news service

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