Agency for Health Care Administration Strips Care From 9,000+ Transgender Floridians

Agency for Health Care Administration Strips Care From 9,000+ Transgender Floridians

TALLAHASSEE, FL -- This weekend, the Agency for Health Care Administration’s (AHCA) rule stripping Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care goes into effect, officially ripping life-saving care from thousands of vulnerable Floridians. The rule, which denies Medicaid coverage for transgender healthcare, is part of a broader assault on health care for transgender Floridians that has engulfed state agencies and the legislature. 

“As it has been with these attacks across the board, the cruelty is the point,” said Nikole Parker, Equality Florida Director of Transgender Equality. “Gender-affirming care is lifesaving care. That care is now being shut off by a state agency that has been corrupted, weaponized, and stacked with extremists by a governor desperate to fuel his own political ambitions. For many, that will mean losing access to health care they have been relying upon for decades. The transgender community, like all people, shouldn’t have necessary care stripped away by extremist politicians working overtime to stoke right-wing fervor. This cynical attack is dangerous and puts the health of thousands at risk.”

AHCA’s new rule grew from a thoroughly-debunked April Department of Health “guidelines” memo in which the DeSantis Administration falsely claimed that the efficacy of gender-affirming care is not supported by scientific evidence and went so far as to publicly oppose social transition, implying that the state should mandate haircuts and clothing for children. Gender-affirming care, on the contrary, is supported by every major medical association, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations, and the American Medical Association. Many organizations and medical associations have opposed the state’s attempt to exclude coverage for gender-affirming medical care, including the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and legal and medical experts from Yale and the University of Texas.

“As a psychologist who works with transgender and nonbinary patients, I am deeply concerned for those who will be directly impacted by this unconscionable move to deny gender-affirming care,” said Dr. Gary Howell, CEO and Chief Psychologist at the Center for Psychological Growth. “I have already begun to see an increase in suicidal ideation in patients who fear they will be forced by the state out of their transition process. Gender-affirming care is medically necessary and lifesaving.” 

AHCA is among a number of state agencies being stacked by Governor Ron DeSantis with discredited extremists and weaponized against the LGBTQ community. Unsatisfied with his successful bending of the state legislature to his political will, the Governor has buoyed his right-wing bonafides by corrupting existing policy and rulemaking procedures and using them as a bludgeon. In addition to AHCA, the Board of Medicine voted to initiate a similar rulemaking process that could threaten the licenses of health care professionals for providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth. In its public hearing on August 5, the Board invited testimony from Dr. Quentin Van Meter, a Georgia-based physician who was disqualified as an expert witness on gender-affirming care by a Texas judge who said his “opinion tended to be more agenda driven than scientific driven.”

The DeSantis Administration has also wielded the Department of Education against LGBTQ young people, with Education Commissioner Manny Diaz penning a memo informing school districts in Florida that they may disregard Title IX nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ students, issuing erroneous legal threats to districts who publicly affirm those protections. And last month, the Governor weaponized the Department of Business and Professional Regulation against an LGBTQ-owned small business in Miami, threatening to strip the restaurant of its liquor license after they hosted a drag performance at their weekly Sunday Brunch.

Assaults on gender-affirming care, while motivated by the Governor’s desperate desire for unchecked power, are taking a toll on Florida’s transgender community, with many expressing fear about how they will access the care they have been receiving for years. As AHCA’s rule goes into effect, it is critical to stress that gender-affirming care, including hormone and surgical treatments, continues to be legal and available in Florida and that Medicaid coverage for regular office visits or mental health services are not impacted by this new rulemaking.

Groups have begun exploring potential legal challenges to this cruel rule. Transgender Floridians who will be impacted by the stripping of Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care and are willing to share their story with the public and our legal partners may do so here.


Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. Through education, grassroots organizing, coalition building, and lobbying, we are changing Florida so that no one suffers harassment or discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.



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