Families are suing Florida for threatening the health care of their transgender children

Jade Ladue spent the past weekend celebrating her son’s 13th birthday with him. And despite the stereotype of his age, when it is said that children turn into unruly teenagers, he actually blossoms, she says.

“He has so many hobbies. He loves sports, hanging out with friends, fishing and even going to school,” she said.

But she knows her experience as an adult could have been much worse. Because not so long ago it was.

Ladue’s son, who we call KF, lived as a transgender boy for almost half of his young life. He came out when he was seven, she said.

Before that, he lived with gender dysphoria which gave him painful anxiety and night terrors which constantly deprived him of sleep. He ended up in a lot of trouble at school because of it, she said.

But that quickly turned around when he came out as transgender, she said.

“He was a different person,” she said. “He had this light around him. He was happy again.

KF takes puberty-blocking drugs prescribed by her endocrinologist. It avoids the physical manifestations that accompany female puberty and saves her from having to put up with her body developing in ways incompatible with who it is.

And he should start taking testosterone next year, Ladue said.

But for the past six months or so, KF and his family have watched in horror as his chance to live without the anxiety and night terrors of his past becomes less and less of a safe bet for his future.

Thus, they are suing the Florida health agency for depriving them of KF’s ability to access the health care that has so dramatically improved his quality of life.

They are one of four plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration’s (AHCA) new rule, which prohibits gender-affirming health care coverage for transgender and non-transgender Floridians. binaries who receive their health insurance through Medicaid. The rule could force up to 9,000 transgender Medicaid recipients to forgo medical care that their doctors have prescribed as medically necessary treatment, lawyers say.

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most vulnerable state

The rule targets some of the most vulnerable people in the state — people who live on low or fixed incomes, who are disabled, who are transgender and gender non-conforming. Just like KF’s family.

“I feel like the weak are being attacked here,” Ladue said. “It’s very upsetting. The most important thing for us right now is to have this coverage [for gender-affirming care]because we can’t afford this cost from our pocket.

Ladue works as a patient coordinator at a dental office. KF’s father-in-law is disabled and cannot work. He benefits from social security disability insurance and is a beneficiary of health insurance. KF has four siblings, ages five to 16.

“It’s tough,” Ladue said. “There’s this stereotype of people on Medicaid. … It’s not like we’re sitting around trying to get benefits. We do everything we can. »

A group of LGBTQ+ rights organizations, including Southern Legal Counsel, Lambda Legal, the National Health Law Program and the Florida Health Justice Project, filed the federal lawsuit against the AHCA last week.

On Monday, legal groups asked the court to block enforcement of the AHCA’s ban on gender-affirming care until there is a trial on the merits of the rule.

Simone Chriss, director of the Transgender Rights Initiative at Southern Legal Counsel, said legal teams had filed the motion for a preliminary injunction seeking emergency relief “because every day that passes with this rule”, which went into effect August 21. – “real people get hurt” – just like KF

Ban processing

Meanwhile, in a separate process, the Florida Board of Medicine is working to establish a standard of care that prohibits doctors, like KF’s endocrinologist, from providing treatment for gender dysphoria.

KF’s constant anxiety and night terrors were a direct result of the gender dysphoria he experienced only five or six years ago, Ladue said. If the Florida Board of Medicine has its way, doctors like KF’s endocrinologist could face serious consequences, including the loss of their medical licenses. All for providing gender-affirming care to young people in immense pain, like they did for KF

For now, KF has her faith and her community to lean on, her mother said. Her family attends church every weekend, where they have been shown nothing but love, care and support by their peers.

And he also has his assertive family behind him every step of the way.

KF told his mom he prayed every day that he wouldn’t have to go through this, Ladue said.

“He even said, ‘I’ll do everything I can to not be who I was,'” she said.

“One of our things we said when we moved here years ago – we made a pact as a family that no matter what, we’ll make sure he doesn’t have to go through this,” she said. “As a parent, I will do everything I can to help protect him and make sure he gets the care he needs.”

This story was first published by the Florida Phoenix, which is part of the States Newsroom network of news outlets with grant-supported Louisiana Illuminator and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Florida Phoenix maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor-in-Chief Diane Rado with any questions: [email protected]. Follow Florida Phoenix on Facebook and Twitter.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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