Federal Judge Strikes Down Fla Medicaid Trans Healthcare Ban

Photo via Adobe.
Photo via Adobe.

A federal judge issued an order that permanently enjoins Florida from enforcing its ban on transgender residents using Medicaid for gender-affirming healthcare.

The trial last month ended a few days after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a flurry of anti-LGBTQ legislation on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, to include Senate Bill 254, which further restricted access to trans health care in the state.  

Simone Chriss, director of the Transgender Rights Initiative with Southern Legal Counsel, one of the groups representing the plaintiffs, told WUSF Public Radio/NPR:  

“These are folks who are on Medicaid because they are low income or disabled and they cannot otherwise afford access to their treatments that they need.”  

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in his 54-page order noted: “For many years, Florida’s Medicaid system paid for medically necessary treatments for gender dysphoria. Recently, for political reasons, Florida adopted a rule and then a statute prohibiting payment for some of the treatments: puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries.” 

Hinkle then stated that “gender identity is real. The record makes this clear.” 

In his 44-page ruling issued on June 6 in an earlier case, Hinkle barred the state from any further enforcement action against trans youth or their parents from seeking appropriate gender-affirming care. 

Shannon Minter, the legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told the Washington Blade Wednesday evening: “After a full trial including expert testimony from both sides, Judge Hinkle has ruled that Florida’s exclusion of transgender healthcare under its Medicaid program is invalid and may not be enforced. This means that Florida’s Medicaid program must provide medically necessary care for gender dysphoria, just as it does for other medical conditions.” (Editor’s note: NCLR was not a party in this litigation.) 

The decision, however, is not just limited to plaintiffs in the case. two trans adults named August Dekker and Brit Rothstein, along with two trans minors and their parents who brought the lawsuit against Florida.  

It applies to the mammoth, multibillion-dollar safety net health care program that is paid for by a mix of state and federal tax dollars.  

Lambda Legal, the Transgender Rights Initiative and Southern Legal Counsel that filed the initial legal challenge estimated that there are up to 9,000 Medicaid trans enrollees in the state receiving gender-affirming care. 

The Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.


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