USF Health will comply with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request that Florida’s 12 public universities send information to students who sought gender-affirming care in the past five years, according to Senior Vice President Donna Petersen.
“We have been asked by the state to provide some information and we will respond. That’s all we know at this point,” Petersen said
The DeSantis Office of Planning and Budget will receive anonymous aggregated data on students diagnosed with gender dysphoria, their ages and details of which services were used. This information from the universities will be provided by February 10.
USF Trans Student Union (TSU) executive board member Andy Pham said most students are fearful of what this requirement means for the future of health care access. He said the importance of having hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for trans students goes beyond its physical impact.
“It prevents people from feeling depressed, from feeling suicidal,” Pham said. It gives people more confidence, actually like an antidepressant, although it may not have the boost of an SSRI [antidepressant medicine].
Medical services provided to gender nonconforming and transgender students, such as HRT, behavioral health, and other gender-affirming care will be disclosed on an anonymous screen. Pham said trans students are concerned about how the data will be organized and whether it could harm student privacy.
Since the survey also asked for information about plastic surgery and referrals to other facilities, the specificity of the information could lead to awareness of who the patient was, according to Pham. Florida Sunshine Laws would allow access to all records provided by state universities, allowing the DeSantis administration to request private health records due to state funding of public universities.
Florida students fall under the protection of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), but since the data is anonymous, the law does not prevent the release of patients’ health information without their consent.
Because of the effectiveness of appropriate gender-affirming treatment, Pham noted that blocking access would be detrimental to transgender youth and said most treatments are recommended by professionals.
“Even if you personally don’t agree with [trans access to healthcare]”all major scientific and health organizations are in support of allowing doctors to work with transgender people,” Pham said.
The effectiveness of preventive and affirmative care for gender dysphoric individuals is recognized by American Academy of Pediatrics. If the Governor’s Office of Budget and Planning’s request for health records leads to a restriction of access to “non-academic” pursuits, it would conflict with the position of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“Attempts to limit, challenge or falsely characterize this potentially life-saving care as abuse is dangerous,” HHS wrote. Notice and guidance on gender-affirming care, civil rights and patient privacy.
The Office of Civil Rights is responsible for maintaining and enforcing civil rights laws that guarantee access to health care while prohibiting discriminatory restrictions. of notification and guidance document from March 2022 – Article 1557 specifically – it provides protection from discrimination based on sex or gender identity, allowing patients and families to file complaints.
“Federally funded covered entities that limit an individual’s ability to receive necessary medical care, including gender-affirming care, from their health care provider solely on the basis of their assigned birth gender or identity gender, likely violates section 1557,” according to the HHS announcement. .
The Florida Governor’s “anti-woke” platform has targeted reforms and restrictions in several sections of the education system. TSU members are concerned that this request is just the beginning of a larger project for DeSantis, Pham said, holding back inclusion efforts for queer youth.
“Some of my colleagues have said that these ‘Stop WOKE’ and ‘Don’t Say Gay’ acts are extremely broadly written but extremely selectively applied,” Pham said. “We could see the introduction of similar policies and legislation.”
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