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TALLAHASSEE (LifeSiteNews) – The administration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is moving to prohibit Medicaid coverage for transgender procedures and ban them for minors. 

In a report released Thursday, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) determined that Florida’s $36 billion Medicaid program should not include coverage for so-called “gender transition” drugs and surgeries, such as puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and mutilating “sex change” operations. 

The AHCA report concluded that the procedures have not been proven safe or effective to treat gender dysphoria, a disorder that involves feelings of distress about one’s sex, and do not meet generally accepted professional medical standards (GAPMS). Treatments must conform to GAPMS to receive Medicaid coverage, according to the report.

“Available medical literature provides insufficient evidence that sex reassignment through medical intervention is a safe and effective treatment for gender dysphoria. Studies presenting the benefits to mental health, including those claiming that the services prevent suicide, are either low or very low quality and rely on unreliable methods,” states the report, signed by state deputy director for Medicaid Tom Wallace.

“Rather, the available evidence demonstrates that these treatments cause irreversible physical changes and side effects that can affect long-term health,” it adds, pointing to the likelihood of infertility or sterility as a result of cross-sex hormones and “sex reassignment” surgeries. “Considering the weak evidence supporting the use of puberty suppression, cross-sex hormones, and surgical procedures when compared to the stronger research demonstrating the permanent effects they cause, these treatments do not conform to [generally accepted medical standards] and are experimental and investigational.”

READ: The ‘transgender’ experiment is the biggest child abuse scandal of our lifetimes

While high-profile liberal medical associations like American Academy of Pediatricians have endorsed “gender-affirming care,” the report notes, “none of those organizations relies on high-quality evidence. Their eminence in the medical community alone does not validate their views in the absence of quality, supporting evidence.”

The AHCA’s determination involved a review of scientific evidence and consultation with several medical experts and echoes findings of similar reviews conducted by the U.K.’s national health service. 

In a news release Thursday, the AHCA announced that it will launch the rule-making process related to Medicaid coverage for gender dysphoria procedures. 

Florida is one of 17 states that does not have a Medicaid policy that either includes or bans coverage for “gender transitions.” However, if the state implements Wallace’s recommendations, it will join eight others – Texas, Tennessee, Nebraska, Missouri, Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas, Arizona – that expressly prohibit health coverage for transgender services.

DeSantis’ health secretary takes on child ‘sex changes’

Wallace’s report comes after Florida surgeon general and health secretary Joseph Ladapo issued guidelines in April recommending against hormonal interventions and disfiguring surgeries for minors who experience gender dysphoria. 

Like the AHCA report, Ladapo’s guidance warns of “a lack of conclusive evidence” for the procedures and “the potential for long-term, irreversible effects.” 

“Based on the currently available evidence, ‘encouraging mastectomy, ovariectomy, uterine extirpation, penile disablement, tracheal shave, the prescription of hormones which are out of line with the genetic make-up of the child, or puberty blockers, are all clinical practices which run an unacceptably high risk of doing harm,’” the guidance reads. 

After the release of the AHCA’s report Thursday, Ladapo sent a letter to the state medical board, which regulates Florida doctors, urging it to draft new, more restrictive policies regarding “gender transitions” for the state’s youth. 

“The current standards set by numerous professional organizations appear to follow a preferred political ideology instead of the highest level of generally accepted medical science,” wrote Ladapo, whom DeSantis appointed in September. “Florida must do more to protect children from politics-based medicine. Otherwise, children and adolescents in our state will continue to face a substantial risk of long-term harm.”

Florida currently has multiple active “gender clinics” for minors, including the UF Health Youth Gender Program in Gainesville and the Orlando-based Adolescent Medicine Center of the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.

READ: Florida warns against ‘sex changes’ for children, blasts Biden administration guidance

In the past two years, GOP-led states across the country have ramped up efforts to counter the rise of gender ideology in health care, sports, and education.

In February, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed state agencies to treat “gender-transitioning procedures” for minors as child abuse and investigate parents and medical facilities responsible for “transitioning” kids, following an advisory opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton determining that the practices constitute abuse.

Late last month, the Montana health department issued an order declaring that sex “is not changeable, even by surgery” and ending the option to change one’s registered sex to align with a so-called “gender identity.”

Multiple European countries have also recently moved to restrict puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for children and adolescents with gender dysphoria. Sweden earlier this year formally recommended against hormonal interventions for minors, citing serious health risks and uncertain science. Finland announced similar recommendations two years ago.

Florida lawmakers have introduced measures to ban “gender transitions” for children outright, but the proposals have stalled in the Republican-controlled state legislature. Gov. DeSantis has repeatedly pledged that he would sign such legislation if it made it to his desk.

The DeSantis administration’s actions on Thursday lay the groundwork for it to move forward with restrictions on transgender drugs and surgeries without going through the state house, the Washington Examiner noted.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones for minors confused about their sex, and neither type of drug has been studied in randomized controlled trials or longitudinal studies with gender-confused youth.

A growing number of experts have cautioned that transgender procedures can result in serious or even life-threatening side effects. Drug labels for puberty blockers warn of stroke and “sudden cardiac death,” and cross-sex hormones are linked to increased risk of cancer and often lead to irreversible, mutilating “sex change” surgeries.