Last Updated: 5:18, with judge’s decision.
A federal judge has rejected a request by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration to conduct “mental examinations” on a pair of 12-year-olds who are plaintiffs in a challenge to a state rule prohibiting Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care for transgender people.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s two-page decision, released Wednesday, came after lawyers for the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which largely oversees the Medicaid program, filed a motion asking him to order evaluations of plaintiffs identified as “Susan Doe” and “K.F.”
Geeta Nangia, a South Carolina-based psychiatrist selected by the state to conduct the exams, in court documents challenged the use of medical interventions for trans children and adolescents, calling such treatment “risky at best” and supporting the state’s stance.
Hinkle’s decision noted that the state’s motion identified Nangia’s qualifications as a psychiatrist who treats children and adolescents, but he said it “does not address her experience treating transgender” youths.
“Her expert report — not mentioned in the motion — says she has treated over a thousand patients with gender dysphoria. But the report does not indicate how many of those patients, if any, she supported in their identified gender,” Hinkle’s decision said.
The judge also pointed to a Nov. 15 scheduling order in which he said that, under court rules, the plaintiffs could have to undergo “appropriate examinations … but no individual will be required to submit to an examination by a transgender denier or skeptic.”
“Because the current motion does not address whether Dr. Nangia is a transgender denier or skeptic, this order denies the motion,” Hinkle wrote. “Any renewed motion should address how many patients Dr. Nangia has supported in their identified gender. Any renewed motion should also address how any finding from an examination might affect a ruling on the controlling substantive issue of whether treatments at issue are experimental.”
The DeSantis administration last summer approved a rule to stop Medicaid payments to medical providers for such treatments as puberty blockers, hormone therapy and gender-reassignment surgery. The costs of such surgeries, services and medications can run to thousands of dollars per month.
Four transgender plaintiffs, including Susan Doe and K.F., filed a federal lawsuit challenging the rule, alleging treatment of gender dysphoria is “medically necessary, safe and effective” for transgender children and adults.
In the lawsuit, parents of the children diagnosed with gender dysphoria expressed concern that the changes to the Medicaid program would have a negative effect on their children’s mental health and could even lead to attempted suicide. The federal government defines gender dysphoria as clinically “significant distress that a person may feel when sex or gender assigned at birth is not the same as their identity.”
But in a motion filed Tuesday, the state’s lawyers argued Nangia needed to examine the children.
“Defendants are entitled to confirm whether or not plaintiffs suffer from gender dysphoria. Defendants also are entitled to explore whether plaintiffs have undergone appropriate mental health treatment. And defendants are entitled to explore whether comorbidities, such as depression and anxiety, may be the root cause of plaintiffs’ emotional distress, and whether reversal of their gender affirming treatment will negatively impact their mental health as alleged,” Mohammad Jazil, the state’s lead lawyer on the case, argued.
The Agency for Health Care Administration has approved a $950,000 contract with Jazil’s firm — Holtzman Vogel Baran Torchinsky & Josefiak PLLC — to represent the state in the dispute over the Medicaid rule. The firm also received more than $20,000 in separate contracts for legal research on the rule as it was being developed and approved last year. The state has paid the firm more than $180,000 thus far, according to state records.
The rule went into effect in August, and Hinkle refused in October to issue a preliminary injunction to block it.
The state’s motion this week said the psychological evaluations of the 12-year-olds would consist of an initial interview that would last about two hours; a “comprehensive psychiatric evaluation” to address gender dysphoria that would include “psychiatric history, developmental history, medical history, family history, social history;” and, among other things, discussion of “familial stability” and “peer groups.”
Nangia is CEO of Known and Loved, a Greenville, S.C.-based Christian organization focusing on children who have been in foster or adoptive care.
The organization’s website said Nangia “has a passion for walking children and families through a journey toward stronger and healthier relationships … and for building children’s self concept by helping them understand that they are indeed ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ by God.”
The plaintiffs’ lawyers opposed the state’s request for the examinations.
Yale School of Medicine professor Meredithe McNamara, one of the plaintiffs’ experts, praised Hinkle’s decision to deny the evaluations.
“It’s heartening to know that the judge will not compel transgender youth to subject themselves to a traumatizing and unnecessary assessment as of now, but it never should have been requested in the first place. The state is wasting its resources to weaponize mental health and bully families,” she said in an email.
An Oct. 3 declaration by Nangia, filed in court documents, laid out her skepticism about gender-affirming treatment for youths.
Nangia — who is being paid $350 an hour by the state for “documentation and review” and $550 an hour for “deposition or trial testimony” — said she has “treated over a thousand patients with gender dysphoria” during her 15-year career as a psychiatrist.
The psychiatrist said she has seen a “dramatic increase” in the number of children and adolescents who experience gender dysphoria or identify as transgender over the past decade.
“Important questions regarding the increased prevalence of gender dysphoria or transgenderism among youth must be raised,” she argued, blaming the increase in part on a “bandwagon effect.”
But psychiatrist Dan Karasik, one of the plaintiffs’ experts, picked apart Nangia’s record in a rebuttal, calling the number of patients she claimed to have treated as “highly suspect” and disputing her allegations that trans patients regretted gender-affirming treatment.
Karasik also attributed the increase in the number of transgender youths to changes in how data is collected.
Nangia’s declaration, however, argued that “social culture” changes have caused more widespread acceptance of what she called “transgenderism,” through support on social media, in school clubs and by celebrities who “promote and glamorize transgenderism.” Parents in her practice also “more readily embrace” trans children, as do medical professionals, she said.
“Such observation of my patients make me weary (sic) of increasing numbers of youth becoming vulnerable to adopting a movement’s ideologies, principles, and behaviors merely in an effort to attain the reward of widespread affirmation and approval that the movement provides,” she said.
She said adolescence is a “critical period of identity formation and wanting to belong, and a period of vulnerability,” and she linked an increase in gender dysphoria to the rise of LGBTQ “advocacy and awareness” movements.
“To provide children with the ability to make very serious medical choices that affect their overall health and self concept for the rest of their lives, including their reproductive capability, during a season of such tremendous neurodevelopmental growth and susceptibility is risky, at best,” Nangia argued.
DeSantis, who is widely considered a potential frontrunner in the 2024 Republican presidential contest, and his allies have taken a number of steps to curtail gender-affirming treatment. For example, at the Department of Health’s request, state medical boards recently advanced a proposal to prohibit Florida doctors from using puberty blockers, hormone therapy or surgery to treat children diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
–Dara Kam, News Service of Florida
Someone Exam Epstein’s Friend says
Rhonda Santis needs his own mental exam. He’s far too obsessed with the genitals of kids. He’s obsessed with sex. He’s obsessed with gender and gender identify. Ron is a parent to three kids. He needs to parent those kids and leave kids, who have other parents, under the control of those parents. Shall we talk about how Ron likes to pal about with people accused of sexual improprieties? Shall we also talk about how the foster care system run by the state of FL is a pedo and sex traffickers dream. Reports by the Miami Herald list over 90,000 cases of abuse in the foster system that Rob as not addressed AND hotels being involved but yet he turns a blind eye. Now, why is that, Ron? Who was photographed when he was a teacher in GA at a party his students were having? Groomer much?
This man has something buried very deep in his closet. I’m not saying Epstein but….when the largest sex trafficker makes a home, in a state you rep, and you turn a blind eye to all things that actually harm kids, yet go after a kid who feels they are trans, yo Buddy, you have something very deep and very perverse and very disgusting in your past or present. Casey knows. The wife always knows. The wife of the CPAC guy knew her husband was someone that like to sexually assault other men.
Those who scream the loudest and with the most hate in their heart, are always guilty of what they’re screaming about. In other words, PUNISH THE GAYS, because half of these Republican leaders ARE closet cases who hate themselves.
Joseph Masci says
That’s fine if parents and children want this, to each there own, however why should the government (our tax dollars) be the one flipping the bill?
Deborah Coffey says
Because we’re a society and it’s healthcare? Because we care deeply about the needs of other people?
I thought that Republicans didn’t want government in your business, but now, they are going to tell you that you can’t wear masks, that you shouldn’t get vaccinated, that your body is not your own, that you should be Christian, that you should be white, what schools can and cannot teach you, what books should be banned and birth control should be legislated.
So, now, if you disagree with King DeSantis, and you file suit against his political agenda, you need to get your head examined, and examined by an out of state bias individual who is paid $350 to $550 an hour to give a rigged opinion on you.
He is only doing this for his own personal political points. What’s he doing for Florida other than cultural war progression?
Do you Republicans know what “dystopian” means? You better learn in a hurry!
Deborah Coffey says
Spot on, Laurel.
Andy K says
Seems reasonable to me since gender dysphoria is a clinical mental illness. What’s the issue?
Deborah Coffey says
What’s the issue? “The DeSantis administration last summer approved a rule to stop Medicaid payments to medical providers for such treatments as puberty blockers, hormone therapy and gender-reassignment surgery. The costs of such surgeries, services and medications can run to thousands of dollars per month.” DeSantis would like to have more kids committing suicide. It obviously pleases him.
Andy K.: Lets forget about this particular topic of “gender dysphoria” for just a minute.
Do you understand what it means, legally and politically, that if you, Andy, should disagree, in court, with the Governor of Florida, or the President of the United States, like Trump, that this politician can order you a psychological evaluation? Something he has no expertise in? Do you understand that your evaluation could be done by a biased individual, or individuals, paid for by the taxpayers, of which you are one? Do you understand the danger in this? What if this said politician’s appointed, biased “professional” finds you nutty? What if the state throws you in a mental facility? Is this democracy? Did you get a fair shake?
Now, let’s go a step further and say you, Andy, managed to take your grievance all the way to the Supreme Court, that is a political activist court, dominated by justices with one viewpoint, all of them the same, and all of them predictable. Would this be justice for you?
This, Andy, is why DeSantis is behaving like George Orwell’s “Big Brother” in his novel “1984.” He is already creating “newspeak,” and setting us all up for a dystopian, near future. Please read the book, and you’ll see why people get upset at the actions of this man. He becomes more dangerous every day, and if you support him, you are supporting your very own lack of freedom, and giving politicians like him more power to control you life.
Now, going back to “gender dysphoria,” there is no proof that it is a clinical mental illness. Whoever told you that has no idea what they are talking about.
Thank you, yet again, Laurel! Well said. . . very well said! However, I fear your educated, well reasoned, remarks are wasted on those already brainwashed by 20 years of FOX propaganda.
Keep up the good effort!!!
… “Ah what agita… when I get home I’ll have to remind Jill to toss those steaks out. Ya know they call Manatee’s ‘sea cows,’ but they sure don’t taste like it.”