DeSantis is appointing new medical board members while slamming gender-affirming care for youth
With the state considering a ban on gender-affirming care for minors, two key medical oversight boards scheduled to discuss the issue next week have undergone changes to their members in just a couple months.
Gov. Ron DeSantis is responsible for appointments to both the Florida Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine and they must be confirmed by the Florida Senate. The osteopathic board currently has seven members, while the medicine board has 15, according to the boards’ websites.
So far, DeSantis has appointed six new members to the boards since December of 2022: four individuals appointed to serve on the Osteopathic Medicine Board and two on the Board of Medicine.
As for gender-affirming care, both boards are moving forward with the process of imposing a ban for kids, but the osteopathic board has published rules that are more lenient; their draft language would allow osteopathic doctors to perform nonsurgical treatments for minors if they are enrolled in clinical trials at medical institutions.
The Board of Medicine has opposed any such exception in its new rules. At issue is whether the appointment of the new board members will trigger more changes to the rules.
The joint board meeting is scheduled on Feb. 10 in Tallahassee, in North Florida, to discuss the proposed rules, triggering outrage from LGBTQ+ advocates who argue that the care is necessary for the health of transgender kids.
Meanwhile, the latest new member was announced on Monday in a press release from the governor’s office, welcoming Dr. Watson Ducatel to the Board of Osteopathic Medicine. Ducatel is owns a medical practice in the Tampa Bay area.
On Dec. 28, 2022, DeSantis appointed two members to the medicine board, including Dr. Gregory Coffman and Dr. Matthew Benson, according to a separate press release from the governor’s office.
And earlier in December, the Republican governor had chosen three new members to serve on the osteopathic board, including Christopher Creegan, Dr. Monica Mortensen, and Dr. Gregory Williams.
The public comment period – allowing transgender rights advocates to express their concerns with the ban – had been reopened until Feb. 7, according to Simone Chriss, an attorney and director of the Transgender Rights Initiative for the Southern Legal Counsel.
If the new rules are adopted, the earliest date the ban would take effect is March 16, Chriss said in an email to the Florida Phoenix.
But her group, which provides legal representation in civil rights issues, along with other LGBTQ+ advocates are gearing up for a court challenge to the ban on such care if it takes effect, she said.
“At this time, nothing has changed with regard to providers’ ability to provide medically necessary, evidence-based treatment for gender dysphoria in the state of Florida,” Chriss said.
“No ban is in place at this time so providers should not be ceasing their provision of care for minors for the treatment of gender dysphoria, and patients/parents should not be cancelling appointments or feel worried or hesitant to make or attend appointments.”
Gov. DeSantis slams puberty blockers
During a news conference Tuesday in Bradenton about higher education, DeSantis pivoted to denouncing gender-affirming care for minors, after someone in the crowd asked him about “gender-based care” for kids in Florida.
“You mean, like sex change operations,” DeSantis said. “I don’t think we use that term. … ok, so I mean look, you have, and this is sad, but this is going on, you’re having in our in our society, they’re giving teenagers, kids puberty blockers.”
“They’re doing sex change operations and so we actually have very young adults who went through this when they were minors and they’re saying this was a huge mistake. And in fact that’s not evidence based when you start talking about sex changes and puberty blockers,” DeSantis said.
“So we’ve worked through our department or our medical licensing board to say that you in the state of Florida, if you’re performing those procedures on these minors you’re gonna lose your medical license here in Florida. So that is happening,” he said, as the crowd applauded.
He continued: “We’re also gonna work with the Legislature to make sure that we put that into statute so that you’re able to have accountability in that sphere. So when you’re talking about publicly funded institutions you know those are not things that I think are an appropriate use of your tax dollars and I do think unfortunately you have seen this done at some publicly funded thing. You know, five years ago I don’t think anyone even knew this was going on or talked about it certainly not ten years ago.
DeSantis added: “These are young very young people and they have all kinds of things that go on you know when you’re in those years the way to deal with that and most of it resolves itself by the time they become adults but the way to deal with that is to provide whatever counseling is needed – not to hack off their body parts that is not a solution to the problem that is mutilation and it is wrong.”
Phoenix reporter Danielle J. Brown contributed to this report.