Gender-Transition Care Policies for Minors: Health Organizations Delay Depositions

After an initial attempt to defer the order was denied, many healthcare institutions required by a district court to provide depositions explaining their recommendations on gender-transitioning treatment filed a new emergency motion.

LGBTQ rights groups have filed a lawsuit against the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) over a rule that went into effect in August 2022 prohibiting Medicaid billing for gender-transition medical treatments and other therapies for gender dysphoria in minors.

As a result, the State of Florida issued third-party subpoenas to over a dozen different non-profits, including the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the Endocrine Society, demanding documents outlining the process by which each organization adopted its policy on gender-affirming treatment for the care of gender dysphoria.

The State is also interested in the detailed information and expert opinions used or disregarded in making these decisions.

Judge Carl Nichols of the United States District of Florida issued an order on February 27 that the groups hand up the data after Florida won its hearing. Also, he demanded that the WPATH, the AAP, and the Endocrine Society all provide depositions from a single corporate representative of their choosing to explain the development of their “gender-affirming care for the treatment of gender dysphoria” guidelines.

On March 2, the three parties required to give depositions filed an emergency request to stay, which Judge Nichols subsequently dismissed.

Based on the State’s agreement to a protective order and the redaction of names and other personal identifiers in documents submitted or testimony collected, Nichols found that the nonparty groups’ First Amendment rights were “outweighed by the State’s significant need for the requested discovery.”

The groups submitted their second emergency application to delay the pending appeal on Monday. They have until this Friday to produce the documents and depositions, which is also the last day of discovery in the underlying litigation, Dekker v. Weida.

The motion filed on Monday argued that requiring the organizations to produce documents showing their internal deliberation process would violate the First Amendment rights of the appellants.

This finding is not about an agreement among the “establishment,” the motion argued, even if the State says it is interested in investigating the alleged consensus of the “medical establishment” in support of gender-affirming care.

The motion argued that the State’s action is an attempt to prosecute and target the internal constitutional process of private organizations that have formulated and campaigned for a public policy that the State opposes.

According to the motion, allowing this discovery to proceed would have immediate and permanent negative repercussions on each organization and the general public. It also violates well-established Constitutional norms.

This follows the filing of a bill in the Florida House of Representatives that would limit the use of gender-neutral pronouns in classrooms.

House Bill (HB) 1223 was introduced on Tuesday, which, if passed, would define “sex” as “the binary division of humans based on reproductive function.”

According to the proposed legislation, a person’s sex is an immutable biological attribute, and it is dishonest to allocate an individual a pronoun that does not match such person’s sex.

Similarly, the bill incorporates amendments to the Parental Rights in Education statute submitted by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis last year to limit instruction and discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation to the eighth grade, up from the third.

Since introducing DeSantis’ bill, there has been a heightened interest in gender issues in the classroom. On the heels of DeSantis’ bill, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., introduced his bill in September 2022 and reintroduced it on February 1, 2023, intending to withhold federal funding from institutions that keep parents in the dark about their student’s gender transition or use of alternate pronouns.

Furthermore, this week, a new law was introduced in Florida that would mandate detransition coverage for businesses that provide gender transition services.

Ronna McDaniel, The chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, recently wrote an opinion piece for the media in which she stated that schools should educate young kids about the A-B-Cs, not S-E-X, which is “unacceptable” for Democrats. She referred to a poll conducted by the Daily Wire that revealed “67% of Americans agreed” that the DeSantis law would “protect children from unsuitable themes that parents should discuss.”