Florida’s trans treatment ban lacks any medical justification, academic report says

A group of Yale University professors called the state’s plan to block gender-affirming Medicaid treatments “pseudo-science”

Abe Asher
Friday 15 July 2022 21:47 BST
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A group of Yale University professors pushed back on Florida’s plan to block Medicaid from covering gender-affirming medical treatments for transgender residents, calling it “pseudo-science” that “blatantly violates the basic tenets of scientific inquiry.”

The 28-page report out of the Yale School of Law and School of Medicine comes in response to a plan championed by far-right Gov. Ron DeSantis to prevent low-income Floridians from accessing treatments like puberty-blockers and hormone therapy.

The state has argued that those treatments are not “medically necessary” and proven safe and effective, a position that it expanded upon a long report issued by the state’s Agency for Healthcare Administration on June 2.

In a statement on that report, the Agency wrote that it “has determined that several services for the treatment of gender dysphoria – i.e., sex reassignment surgery, cross-sex hormones, and puberty blockers – are not consistent with generally accepted professional medical standards and are experimental and investigational with the potential for harmful long term affects.”

However, the scientific community by and large does not back Florida’s findings on the effectiveness and necessity of gender-affirming healthcare. This position was made all the more clear by the Yale professors and colleagues from the University of Texas Southwestern and University of Alabama.

“So repeated and fundamental are the errors in the June 2 report that it seems clear that the report is not a serious scientific analysis but, rather, a document crafted to serve a political agenda,” the Yale report’s authors write.

While the Yale report’s authors spend a number of pages laying out how the state has failed to understand or ignored medical research, it was also not lost them that Florida’s plan to deny benefits to transgender Medicaid recipients is a proposal that would disproportionately devastate the state’s poor and non-white residents — many of whom are less able to travel or relocate out of state to get the care they need.

The Yale report’s authors also posited that the state’s plan is illegal as it discriminates against transgender individuals.

The state had a predictably outsize reaction to the report, seemingly in line with Mr DeSantis’ confrontational style that saw him berate a group of middle schoolers for wearing masks at an indoor event he was speaking at earlier this year.

“This is simply another example of the left-wing academia propaganda machine arrogantly demanding you follow their words and not the clear evidence-based science sitting right in front of you,” AHCA Communications Director Brock Juarez wrote in an email to the Talahassee Democrat. “The Yale ‘review’ is a hodgepodge of baseless claims using ‘expert opinions’ that lack any sort of real authority or scientific credibility.”

Mr DeSantis has targeted transgender Floridians throughout his tenure as governor, championing a bill last year to ban transgender athletes from playing in womens’ sports. He is expected to compete against former President Donald Trump and others for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

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