Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is requesting "mental examinations" be performed on two 12-year-olds who are plaintiffs in a legal challenge against a state rule that prohibits Medicaid coverage for minors seeking sex change treatments.
Lawyers for the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration filed a motion Tuesday calling for US District Judge Robert Hinkle to order mental health assessments of plaintiffs "Susan Doe" and "K.F.", reports News Service Florida.
The lawyers argue that the state has "good cause to conduct the mental examinations" on the two children who believe themselves to be members of the opposite sex.
Psychiatrist Geeta Nangia, based in South Carolina, has been selected by the state to conduct the evaluations. Nangia opposes the medical transition of minors who identify as the opposite sex, calling interventions such as puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones "risky at best."
Four minors who believe themselves to be transgender filed a federal lawsuit challenging last year’s decision by the DeSantis administration to prevent Medicaid from paying for experimental sex changes for children and adolescents. The cost of such treatments can amount to thousands of dollars every month.
The lawsuit argues that sex changes for minors are "medically necessary, safe and effective." Furthermore, the parents of the plaintiffs expressed concern that the new Medicaid rules would have a detrimental effect on the mental health of their children and might even result in suicide attempts.
Mohammad Jazil, lead lawyer for the state, argued in the motion filed Tuesday that an evaluation of the plaintiffs was necessary.
"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," said Jazil.
The mental health evaluations would consist of a two-hour interview, a "comprehensive psychiatric evaluation" to assess the plaintiff’s gender dysphoria, and a thorough investigation of the patient’s "psychiatric history, developmental history, medical history, family history, social history." As well, it would include a discussion about "familial stability" and "peer groups."
Judge Hinkle has already refused an attempt to block the bill that was passed last August.
According to News Service Florida, lawyers for the plaintiffs issued statements opposing the request for evaluations.
"We believe that the defendants' motion is completely inappropriate, invasive and unnecessary. We will be fighting this, and we hope that the court will deny this request," Simone Criss, Transgender Rights Initiative director at Southern Legal Counsel, told News Service Florida.
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