ORLANDO, Fla. – In the past week, the DeSantis administration took another step forward with its proposal to eliminate Medicaid coverage for transgender treatments.
Both national and state LGBTQ+ advocacy groups have pledged to fight against the proposal.
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Meanwhile, a local program that many say has helped changed the lives of more than 150 trans people in Central Florida is gearing up for its next class.
Christopher Roberts said a friend introduced him to the TRANSformation program through BLISS CARES, a nonprofit organization, affiliated with the medical clinic Bliss Health.
“I remember just telling her about my journey, about how I was trying to find different resources for me,” Roberts said. “When I first started, I was doing research basically online.”
Bliss’s TRANSformation program is a 7–8-week course that helps transgender people navigate their transition, including how to address problems that may arise at work, and how to legally change their name.
Cyn was Christopher’s name before his transition.
“If you don’t have any background in legal documentation, the whole packet is just really confusing,” Roberts said. “So, we were able to sit and have that counseling on how to fill these things out.”
As more trans Floridians find a resource in BLISS CARES, other resources are being threatened. At Gov. Ron DeSantis’ urging, last week, Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration published a notice for a proposed rule change for the General Medicaid Policy.
The rule declares Gender Dysphoria does not meet the definition of medical necessity, which means Medicaid would no longer cover transgender treatments including puberty blockers, hormones and sex reassignment surgeries.
Ace Davis is the program manager at BLISS CARES and runs the TRANSformation program.
“It’s pretty barbaric,” Davis told News 6.
“I just can think back on how impactful all of the trans-related services have been to me, from hormones all the way up to surgeries, and to not have access to those is pretty devastating,” he said.
Equality Florida, the state’s largest organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, estimates the rule change could impact about 9,000 trans people insured with Medicaid, if enacted.