LGBT and health organizations announced Wednesday that they are suing the state of Florida in federal court in light of the Sunshine State’s new anti-trans Medicare health rule.
The groups include the Southern Legal Counsel, Florida Health Justice Project, Lambda Legal, National Health Law Program, and the Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. The plaintiffs are two transgender adults — August Dekker and Brit Rothstein — and two minors represented by their parents — Susan and K.F.
The lawsuit, Dekker, et al., v. Marstiller, et al., was filed after the new Medicare rule that states that gender dysphoria is exempt from coverage, specifically puberty blockers, hormones, gender-affirming surgeries, and “any other procedures that alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics.” Other exceptions to coverage include incarcerated people and out-of-state services. The rule went into effect on Aug. 21.
“This new Medicaid rule denies me the ability to access treatment that I cannot otherwise afford,” Dekker, a 28-year-old trans man, said in a press release from the Southern Legal Counsel. “Everyone deserves to exist in a way that feels safe, yet this ban will impact so many transgender Medicaid beneficiaries like me with very negative effects on our physical and mental health and our lives. It’s truly awful and unfair to feel like the state is targeting your existence.”
Meanwhile, a judge in North Carolina ruled in June that the state’s health plans must include treatment for transgender patients.
The transgender community has experienced a series of blows from the state of Florida. In August, the Florida Board of Medicine voted to explore standards of gender-affirming care for trans youth, following the Department of Health’s petition to not allow any treatment until adulthood and for adult patients to have a 24-hour waiting period.
During the hearing, endocrinology experts from the University of Florida called the meeting a “political maneuver.” The vote in favor of exploring the restrictions was 14-1.
The parents of Susan, who is 12, said in a release, “It's frustrating to know that the same medications and care that are provided to other children for different medical reasons, will not be provided to our child. We are concerned about the message the State of Florida is sending to young transgender people like our daughter by excluding them from the Medicaid coverage to which they otherwise would be entitled simply because of who they are.”
Simone Chriss, the director of the Transgender Rights Initiative at Southern Legal said that the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration has ignored evidence and science “in a shameful effort to gain political points.”