The Florida House Health & Human Services Committee has approved plans to issue subpoenas to state medical organizations that support gender-affirming care for trans youth.
The subpoenas will reportedly be issued within 24 hours and will ask for records from the state chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Florida Psychiatric Society. Both organizations are involved in a lawsuit challenging a state policy that prevents Medicaid from covering gender-affirming health care for all trans people.
The rule took effect last August and says puberty blockers, hormone therapies, and surgical procedures for the treatment of gender dysphoria cannot be covered for patients of any age.
According to Politico, the subpoenas seek records that demonstrate how the organizations determined that gender-affirming care is safe.
“It’s very curious — if you’ve got the science on your side, why would you want to hide,” state Rep. Randy Fine (R) reportedly said. “We want to see the science, and I’m afraid we’re going to be disappointed by what we see.”
House Speaker Paul Renner (R) requested the subpoenas after the organizations did not want to turn over the records as part of their lawsuit.
“And they did so notwithstanding their knowledge (and likely, their intent) that their own standards and endorsements are being cited in litigation as a basis to effectively veto state law,” Renner wrote in a letter to the House committee.
Committee Chairman Randy Fine stated before the vote, “The idea is to bring into the light the so-called universally accepted, unambiguous, clear-cut evidence that supports these things. Frankly, I find it shocking that we have to have a subpoena to do this. If I was someone who was so confident in my views on the science in the world, I’d certainly be happy to share them. But these organizations, for whatever reason, are unwilling to and so we’re going to make them.”
But advocates say it isn’t that simple.
Madeline Deutsch, president of the United States Professional Association for Transgender Health and an author of health care guidelines from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, told the News Service of Florida, “If there were five randomized, double-blinded, controlled-prospective trials with data collected over 20 years, I still think they would be like, ‘Yeah, but how do we really know?’”
“You have a situation where legislators have become interested in becoming scientists and getting into the weeds of directing science, and that’s not something that’s customarily done.”
State Rep. Ashley Gantt (D), who opposes issuing the subpoenas, introduced an amendment to also look into the records of organizations that are against gender-affirming care so as to “look at this issue from both sides,” but the GOP majority rejected the proposal.
The executive director for Florida’s chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics said the group had not received the subpoena as of Monday afternoon.
“Our board will discuss how to respond to the subpoena once we receive it,” Adams said.
Gender-affirming care for both adolescents and adults has been endorsed by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, and many other professional groups as necessary and frequently lifesaving for transgender individuals. Treatment for children rarely, if ever, involves surgery.
But that hasn’t stopped Republicans across the country from relentlessly proposing and passing trans health care bans, along with other anti-trans legislation.
Last week, the Florida House of Representatives passed three anti-transgender bills, one of which could put parents’ custody of their trans kids in jeopardy. S.B. 254 would make it illegal for doctors in Florida to provide gender-affirming care to transgender youth. It would also allow the state’s courts to modify custody agreements, redefining “serious physical harm” to a child to include gender-affirming healthcare.
An amended version of S.B. 254 now goes back to the state senate for a final vote before heading to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) desk. DeSantis is reportedly likely to sign the bill into law.
Even without this legislation, trans youth already faced health care bans in the state. In November, the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine voted to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth.