Florida’s ban on ‘free’ sex changes upheld by federal judge

A ban on public money being used to fund sex changes in Florida has been upheld by a federal judge. The state implemented a rule in August that blocks the jointly funded state and federal Medicaid program from covering the cost of gender-affirming care, including hormone therapy or surgery.

Prior to the change, low-income patients covered by the Medicaid program could receive subsidized services that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars out of pocket.

A coalition of trans rights groups filed a lawsuit against Florida over the ban, claiming the treatments are ‘medically necessary, safe and effective’.

But US District Judge Robert Hinkle said there was ‘nothing wrong with the state saying they will approve treatment for this and not that’.

This map shows the proportion of the population identifying as transgender by state. Those with the darkest color have almost one per cent of their population in this category

The above map shows the population of transgender adults and children across America in 2020, according to the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. Its estimate for children aged 13 to 17 has doubled since 2017. It shows the highest population is in southern states, followed by those along the east coast

He said the trans-rights groups had failed to demonstrate the rule would cause ‘irreparable harm’ if it were not blocked in the court.

Florida is one of 10 states that has banned transgender care from being covered by Medicaid — which is jointly funded by the federal government and states.

Roughly five million Floridians — nearly a quarter of the state’s residents —rely on taxpayer-funded Medicaid for timely, affordable healthcare. More than half of the children in the state are covered by Medicaid.

Advocates estimate about 9,000 transgender Floridians obtain their gender-affirming services through Medicaid.

There is growing concern about the long-term effects of irreversible hormone drugs and sex change operations, especially when it comes to children.

Now Oklahoma ‘bans’ puberty blockers for trans children

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has signed a bill that effectively bans gender- reassignment drugs from being prescribed to minors at the state’s main children’s hospital.

The Republican is withholding Covid relief funds from Oklahoma Children’s Hospital at OU Health until it stops providing puberty blockers and hormone therapy to under-18s.

The state allocated $108 million to the University of Oklahoma-linked health system as part of the federal American Rescue Plan Act passed in 2021 to help struggling businesses and hospitals.

Gov. Stitt said Tuesday: ‘By signing this bill today we are taking the first step to protect children from permanent gender transition surgeries and therapies.

‘It is wildly inappropriate for taxpayer dollars to be used for condoning, promoting, or performing these types of controversial procedures on healthy children.’

Oklahoma Children’s Hospital currently offers life-altering drugs to teenagers under 18 with parental approval. It is thought that around 100 minors are currently receiving treatment.

Stitt also called for the Republican-controlled state Legislature to ban some of those gender-affirming treatments statewide when it returns in February.

He said in a statement that he wanted a prohibition on ‘all irreversible gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies’ on minors.

Gender transition surgeries among children are supposed to be used as a last resort but the procedures are becoming increasingly common as more youngsters identify as trans.

Gender-affirming care in children more often consists of various hormone therapies, social transitioning, and behavioral therapy.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of four people, claimed that the state breached parts of the equal protections clause of the Constitution and anti-discriminatory language in Obamacare and the Medicaid Act.

The suit was brought on behalf of August Dekker, Brit Rothstein, and two 12-year-old children — Susan, a transgender girl, and KF, a transgender boy.

Mr Rothstein was due to have gender-affirming surgery in December under Florida’s Medicaid program.

He was told his chest surgery was now cancelled, but his lawyer told the judge a patient being pre-authorized for surgery was an exception to the rule.

Judge Hinkle said he would keep that in mind when the ruling is handed down in the near future.

Three witnesses brought by the state testified at the hearing on Wednesday, including Yaakov Sheinfeld, whose 18-year-old daughter started transitioning after her therapist suggested it.

The therapist said her depression, anxiety and gender dysphoria might be treated with hormones.

Gender dysphoria is the emotional distress due to a disconnect between gender identity and biological sex.

Sheinfeld said his daughter’s depression and anxiety never did pass, even after she had gender-affirming surgery.

She later died of a drug overdose.

Her father said: ‘All I know is the system — the world, the Internet, her friends — informed her to take this journey. And now she’s dead.’

The number of children with gender dysphoria has exploded in recent years, giving rise to the use of powerful puberty-blocking drugs.

About 300,000 children aged between 13 and 17 (1.4 per cent) in the US identify as transgender, according to most recent estimates from 2020.

That is double the number estimated to be transgender in 2017 in a previous report by the same researchers, though they used different estimates.

Connecticut and New York saw the numbers of children identifying as transgender in their states nearly quadruple over the last three years alone. The population only fell in West Virginia, Tennessee and New Jersey.

Children aged 13 to 17 are over four times more likely to identify as transgender (1.4 per cent) than adults over 65 (0.3 per cent).

Some say the rise is born out of increased awareness of gender dysphoria and a rise in acceptance in society.

However, many believe that the impressionable minds of children are easily swayed by ‘trends’ and ‘phases’ among peers and that children are not ready to make irreversible decisions about their gender.

While no official, national estimates exist, many more children receiving gender-affirming care at an increasingly younger age. Treatment often involves powerful and life-altering drugs that block puberty and the release of key developmental hormones.

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