Florida continues to gorge itself on junk science.
On Friday, the state’s alleged public health official asked the Board of Medicine to disregard all credible research and ban treatment of transgender children. Department of Health Secretary Joseph Ladapo, whom Governor Ron DeSantis appointed, has previously asserted that masks do not help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and questioned the proven effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. 19.
Now, Ladapo has further discredited himself and the department by siding with other charlatans who view gender dysphoria as just a passing mindset. Consider who Ladapo is using to make his point.
That would be Quentin Van Meter, a Georgia doctor who has testified in Republican-run states that transgender treatment actually harms children. Playing on transphobia, Van Meter called the rise of such treatments “an epidemic.”
And so, of course, Ladapo used Van Meter as an expert witness. According to a Pennsylvania Capital-Star report, however, a Texas judge found in 2020 that Van Meter was not qualified to be an expert witness on hormone therapy.
Referring to Van Meter, a lawyer in the case told the Capital-Star: “He says all young transgender people are delusional and need psychiatric help. … His opinion tended to be more agenda-driven than science-driven.
DeSantis and Ladapo, of course, are all diaries, not science. The head of pediatric endocrinology at the University of Florida challenged Van Meter on all counts. The Department of Health, Michael Haller told board members, “has provided you with a recommendation for a rule that is contrary to what almost all reasonable providers of gender-affirming and gender-based care in general would say to be the standard of care”.
Imagine the state director of emergency management telling people to ignore hurricane forecasts because they come from so-called experts. It would be the equivalent of Ladapo trying to make the Board of Medicine the only one in the country to ban such care.
Credible studies show that treatment reduces the number of transgender children who commit suicide. Credible research also debunks the idea that children grow up from their transgender identity.
As Ladapo pushed his politically motivated agenda forward at the board meeting in Fort Lauderdale, the Boca Raton City Council was dealing with another form of junk science.
In 2017, the city banned conversion therapy, the discredited practice of trying to change a child’s sexual orientation. Not surprisingly, Van Meter supports conversion therapy.
A federal judge upheld the ban. Robin Rosenberg said Boca Raton has a “compelling interest” in protecting children and cited the American Psychological Association report that conversion therapy “is unlikely to be successful and carries some risk of harm.”
Two therapists, backed by the right-wing Liberty Counsel, challenged Rosenberg’s decision. Two Trump-appointed judges to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the therapists, calling it a ban on free speech. The full court, which has a majority of Trump appointees, declined a new hearing.
Four appellate courts are now divided on conversion therapy. LGBTQ advocates have therefore called on Boca Raton to overturn its ban, rather than appeal to the United States Supreme Court, which after overturning Roe v. Wade would surely side with the therapists. Council members reluctantly followed.
Although DeSantis and Ladapo haven’t focused on conversion therapy, give them time. They can start a culture war from the smallest flame.
Take monkey pox. In announcing that Florida would not be declaring a health emergency, DeSantis said, “We’re not going back to Fauci in the 80s trying to tell families they’re going to get AIDS from watching TV together.”
The Fauci reference is confusing, even by DeSantis standards. In a response to Florida Politics, the governor’s office cited a 1983 interview in which Fauci said researchers still don’t know the “full transmissibility” of AIDS. From that to “watching TV together?” »
DeSantis’ obsessive Fauci trolling says more about the governor than the nation’s most respected public health official. After all, DeSantis put a Holocaust denier in charge of the Florida election and still claims to support “election integrity.”
Regardless of the medical board’s decision — which the governor appoints — on transgender treatment, DeSantis and Ladapo further aligned Florida against public health and sound science. This should make a good fundraising letter.
Contact Randy Schultz at firstname.lastname@example.org.