DeSantis seeks universities’ medical records for gender-affirming care

Governor Ron DeSantis signed a June 2021 bill banning transgender girls from participating in high school sports. Photo courtesy NBC News

The Florida Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget, on behalf of Gov. Ron DeSantis, has issued a memo to all state universities requesting information on university-supplied health care relating to gender-affirming treatment since January 1, 2018. The memo calls for records of all instances of students being diagnosed with gender dysphoria, seeking hormone replacement therapy, surgeries, and various other treatments for transgender patients. 

The data requested in the memo’s instructional section includes the number of individuals — including minors — who had reported a medical encounter and procedure, the ages of the individuals, and the locations where these encounters took place. Other personal identifiers such as name, home address, and protected health information were omitted from the request. 

The deadline for universities to submit their reported information is Feb. 10. 

In the memo, Chris Spencer, director of the Office of Policy and Budget, invoked the Florida statutes in citing “governing institutional resources and protecting the public interest” as the purpose behind the inquiry. Still, the decision to investigate the medical care supplied to transgender students by their university has garnered criticism from concerned students. 

For Tyler Ramirez, a student at the University of South Florida, this decision was yet another in a series of headlines in Florida that have left his future uncertain. 

“I wanted to be a teacher. I went into college to major in education because I wanted to be a safe person for my students to trust and feel no need to hide themselves,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez cited the signing of the “Parental Rights in Education” bill — widely referred to by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — by Gov. DeSantis in March 2022, as well as numerous school districts discussing whether teachers should report a student’s trans identity to their parents, as his motivation behind deciding to switch his major and move out of Florida as soon as possible. 

Speaking on living as a trans person in Florida, Ramirez said, “It’s unsafe. It’s dangerous. It feels hopeless. I thought that when I turned 18, it would be OK for me to transition and to begin living my own true life, but it’s just filled with so much worry and doubt for my future.” 

Tanya Tatum, director of Student Health Services at FAMU, confirmed that the university was contacted by the Office of Policy and Budgets about supplying this information and that FAMU’s response is pending. However, FAMU does not currently provide any medical services relating to gender-affirming care, according to Tatum.