Trans Florida residents sue over gender assertion on Medicare ban

When Auguste Decker celebrated his 28th birthday in June, he said, it was a moment of affirmation and ecstasy.

The Hernando County, Florida, resident went to the beach with his family. It was a perfect afternoon, he said: They sipped a mojito, played in the water, made a “very bad sandcastle” and ate macaroni and cheese at a seaside restaurant. But the highlight of the day was a simple day – it was the first time he could take his shirt off in public and feel comfortable.

Decker, who is transgender, underwent chest surgery three months ago.

Although Dekker has been taking testosterone injections for years, he said he decided to go high on surgery due to the changing political and social climate — as more states, including Florida, try to roll back access to gender-confirmation care.

“I was afraid that if I didn’t roll the ball, I wouldn’t be able to have surgery in the future,” he said. Since Dekker receives disability benefits — his only source of income — he was able to pay for the procedure through Medicaid, just as he did for his hormone treatment.

But according to a new rule that Florida health officials approved last month, Dekker and other trans patients can no longer use Medicaid to pay for gender confirmation care.

‘Don’t Say Trans’: Texas School Board’s New Policies Spark Outrage

Decker and three other trans Florida residents are now resisting the policy.

Wednesday morning, LGBTQ community and health advocacy groups Filed a federal lawsuit In the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida to challenge the state’s new Medicaid program exclusion. The complaint was filed on behalf of Dekker and Brit Rothstein, as well as two minors, Susan Doe (represented by parents John and Jane Doe) and KF (represented by mother Jade Ladue). The lawsuit argues that the Florida policy, which took effect last month, violates the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights and federal laws for nondiscrimination, because it flatly denies them treatment based on their gender identity.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which was cited in the lawsuit, could not be immediately reached for comment.

The state’s Medicaid exclusion comes amid a larger effort, in Florida and elsewhere, to roll back access to gender transition care, especially for trans youth. Conservative lawmakers argue that these policies are intended to protect children and families from harmful actions they may later regret.

Simon Kress, director of the Transgender Rights Initiative at Southern Legal Counsel, one of the groups involved in the lawsuit, said gender assertion care is “critical and lifesaving” for transgender people in Florida.

“It is important that we dispel the myths that allow people to believe that such a ban protects anyone,” Chris said. “They are harming people and depriving them of access to care that is medically necessary for them.”

Omar Gonzalez Pagan of Lambda Legal, a LGBTQ civil rights organization, added that procedures prohibited to transgender patients are still covered for gender-consistent Medicaid patients who use them to treat other conditions.

Across the country, advocacy groups are resisting such policies. In Alabama and Arkansas, federal courts have temporarily blocked bans on gender affirmation sponsorships amid legal challenges.

Gender confirmation care can, but is not always, include medical interventions such as hormone replacement therapy, thoracic surgery, or voice therapy. Although conservative politicians – Including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis It often refers to genital surgeries performed on minors, and these procedures are not recommended for patients under 18 years of age.

While most states have expanded Medicaid protections for gender confirmation care, Florida is now among the Nine states that expressly exclude residents from using Medicaid to pay for them.

Then came the verdict June Report By the State Agency for Health Care Administration That gender dysphoria treatment services are “not in line with widely accepted professional medical standards,” and that they are “experimental and investigative with potential for long-term adverse effects.”

medical professionals He told the Washington Post last month it The agency’s actions are unusual and alarming.

Pennsylvania becomes the 27th state to restrict ‘conversion therapy’

The country’s largest medical organizations, including American Academy of Pediatrics, Recommending gender confirmation sponsorship to help treat minors who are experiencing psychological distress because their biological sex and gender identity do not match, a condition known as gender identity dysphoria. In April, 300 medical providers in the state wrote to An open letter in the Tampa Bay Times Criticizes state note which advised doctors not to give sex confirmation care to minors.

Merethi McNamara, an assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine who was part of the team of researchers who recently View the American Heart Association report.

Brooke Juarez, spokesperson for the American Heart Association, He told the Washington Post In August the agency conducted a “very thorough process, our in-depth work and results really speak for themselves”.

The state medical board is also considered more Rules limiting transgender Florida residents’ ability to receive gender confirmation care Patients who rely on Medicaid are scrambling to see how they can pay for their upcoming treatments and not disrupt the care they rely on.

Among them are John and Jane Doe, who joined the lawsuit on behalf of their 12-year-old daughter, “Susan.” The couple, who declined to be named to protect their child’s right to privacy, adopted Susan, as well as their oldest son, out of adoptive Medicare, which makes them eligible for Medicaid coverage until they turn 18.

As a little girl, Susan would come home from school and instantly switch into “princess dresses,” according to the lawsuit. Eventually, she transformed socially – changing her name, hair, and pronouns to align with her gender identity.

Along the way, the family began working with a team of doctors—including mental health professionals, primary care physicians, and a pediatric endocrinologist—to support Susan’s medical needs. On their recommendation, I recently started Lupron, an anti-pubertal drug that should be given every three months.

According to the complaint, her next injection is due in October, but without Medicaid coverage, the family may have to pay out of pocket for the drug, which they said costs about $11,000 per dose.

They would have to incur debts to provide for Susan’s care, even if they were able to transfer it under her father’s health care plan. Switching insurance plans also means Susan could be cut off from long-term health care providers, including those who see her for other conditions.

Susan’s father said in an interview that it was a “cruel” situation.

Decker, the transgender man who receives a disability benefit, said he fears for his safety in a way he hasn’t before.

He said political attacks have led to an increase in harassment and violence against transgender people in Florida. But Decker also remembers what it felt like without hormone therapy. He said he was depressed and aloof, bathing with lights so he wouldn’t have to see his body. At times, he had suicidal tendencies.

That’s why it was important for him to step up and challenge his original state, Decker said, “The idea of ​​going back to that ghost person I was… I don’t want to become that person again.”

Leave a Comment