Metro Weekly

DeSantis Demands Trans College Students’ Medical Information

Universities are asked to submit detailed data on how many students have been connected with gender-affirming health services.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – Photo: Office of the Governor.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking state universities to provide the state with the number and ages of students who sought out gender-affirming care, including hormone prescriptions and gender confirmation surgery in a survey released on Wednesday.

The survey asks 12 state universities to provide the number of students or individuals who received gender-affirming treatments over the past five years, and how many students were diagnosed with gender identity disorders during that time period. It also asks how many of those cases were “first-time” visits for treatment and how many students were referred to other medical facilities for treatment. The survey says to protect students’ personal identities when completing the survey.

According to The Associated Press, the survey also requires a breakdown by age, regardless of whether the student is over age 18, of students who were prescribed hormones, hormone blockers, or surgical procedures such as mastectomies, breast augmentation, or genital surgery.

The survey is being sent to university board of trustee chairs by DeSantis’ budget director, Chris Spencer.

“Our office has learned that several state universities provide services to persons suffering from gender dysphoria,” Spencer wrote. “On behalf of the Governor, I hereby request that you respond to the enclosed inquiries related to such services.”

The governor’s office has not clarified what the purpose of the survey is, or what it will do with the data it collects from it. The survey must be completed by Feb. 10.

Specer told the board of trustee chairs that completing the survey is “part of their obligation to govern institutional resources and protect the public interest,” according to the AP. 

State Rep. Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa), the Minority Leader in the Florida House of Representatives, predicts that the information from the survey on transgender college students will be used to penalize universities that affirm students’ gender identities socially, those that provide gender-affirming treatments for transgender individuals, or even those who refer such patients to trans-affirming physicians outside of university health systems.

“We can see cuts in funding for universities to treat students with this condition, and I think an all-out elimination of services is certainly on the table,” Driskell told the AP.

The trans health survey is similar to one that the DeSantis administration has sent to state universities asking them to detail their spending on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives or critical race theory programs.

The transgender health information survey was also released on the same day that Florida College System presidents voted to support the DeSantis administration’s ongoing campaign to rid educational institutions of so-called “woke” ideologies that conservatives claim seek to indoctrinate students and to combat so-called “cancel culture.”

In a news release, the FCS presidents promised to ensure that all classroom instruction, initiatives, and activities at their schools will not “promote any ideology that suppresses intellectual and academic freedom, freedom of expression, viewpoint diversity, and the pursuit of truth in teaching and learning.” They also promised to review and remove any instruction that embraces “woke” concepts, such as critical race theory and intersectionality, by Feb. 1.

DeSantis has cast himself as a champion of “parental rights” by attacking so-called “gender ideology” in schools, signing a “Parental Rights in Education” law — dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by critics — that bars LGBTQ-related instruction in grades K-3 and requires that such topics only be addressed in older grades in a manner that is “age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate.” He also signed a bill making it easier for parents to challenge and request the removal of books with content they consider “inappropriate” from school classrooms or libraries.

The LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Florida called the governor’s demand for data on transgender students’ medical decisions “incredibly disturbing.”

“This is another example of DeSantis using his office to attempt to intimidate colleges and universities into becoming less inclusive of their students for his political gain,” Brandon Wolf, the press secretary for Equality Florida, told Politico in a statement. “Those institutions should continue providing affirming services for all students despite the governor’s attempts to intimidate them.”

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