Florida Sues Biden Administration Over New Transgender Healthcare Rule

Florida Transgender Healthcare Rule

On Tuesday, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration.

They aim to block a rule they claim will compel doctors to provide gender transition care against their judgment or face heavy penalties. The lawsuit was lodged in federal court in Tampa and targets a new rule published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Monday.

This rule would ban discrimination in healthcare on the basis of gender identity, based on an anti-discrimination provision within the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Moody and the CMA argue in their complaint that the new rule extends beyond the anti-discrimination law. They assert that it would force doctors to provide, and insurance to pay for, treatments including puberty blockers, hormones, and surgeries for transgender minors and adults against their medical or ethical judgment. Additionally, they claim the rule conflicts with a Florida law banning such treatments, known as gender-affirming care, for minors.

Moody stated in a press release, “These rules trample states’ power to protect their own citizens, and we will not stand by as Biden tries, yet again, to use the force of the federal government to unlawfully stifle Florida’s effort to protect children.”

The plaintiffs assert that the rule is “arbitrary and capricious” under a federal law governing agency rulemaking, and violates doctors’ rights to free speech and freedom of religion under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. They are asking the court for an order blocking its enforcement.

HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, the agency and major medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have stated that gender-affirming care is medically necessary and potentially lifesaving, denouncing restrictions on it as discriminatory.

President Biden, a Democrat, instructed federal agencies like HHS in a 2022 executive order to ensure access to gender-affirming care and prevent discrimination against transgender people.

Republican-led states have passed numerous laws directed at transgender people, including bans on gender-affirming care for minors and restrictions on transgender students’ participation in sports. Recently, a group of Republican states sued the administration over a rule that would bar schools and colleges receiving federal funds from discriminating against transgender students.