Medical board members have Gov. DeSantis’ back financially and on gender-affirming care

Transgender pride rainbow waving flag. Seamless cgi animation highly detailed fabric texture in cinematic slow motion. LGBTQ 3d background of fight for rights and equality symbol.
The boards did not restrict adults from receiving gender-affirming care.

The two Florida medical boards weighing whether to impose rules dealing with gender-affirming care include members who have made large donations to Gov. Ron DeSantis, as well as other Republicans.

It’s not unusual for appointees to boards in state government, ranging from regulatory posts such as the Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine, to those who oversee state universities, to have been donors to the Governor or the Republican Party.

But the crowd noted the donations during meeting in Orlando Friday. There, a joint committee of the two medical boards agreed to draft a proposed amendment to its standard of care rules to prohibit physicians from providing their patients under the age of 18 with hormone and puberty blockers unless they are participating in an institutional independent review board clinical trial affiliated with a university. It contains no exceptions for patients currently being treated for gender dysphoria with puberty blockers or hormones

The boards did not restrict adults from receiving gender-affirming care.

“This is what $25,000 gets you,” one person shouted from the crowd after the boards, which took testimony from people who don’t live in Florida who have de-transitioned and supported the proposed amendments, as well as a German man whose transgender son killed himself.

The proposed changes will be discussed in Orlando on Nov. 4 by the Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine. If approved by the full boards, as expected, the rule will be published.

Cardiologist Zachariah Zachariah, a member of the Board of Medicine and Chair of the board’s Joint Rules Committee, has long been recognized as a GOP fundraiser and donor in the state. While the bulk of his individual donations came when Jeb Bush was Governor, Zachariah gave $25,000 to DeSantis’ political committee in May.

Hector Vila, a Tampa doctor who also sits on the Board of Medicine, donated $20,000 to Friends of Ron DeSantis in late April. Tiffany Sizemore Di Pietro, member of the  Board of Osteopathic Medicine and joint rules committee member, is a medical advisor for Di Pietro Partners, which gave $15,000 to Friends of Ron DeSantis in October 2021. 

Other political donors to DeSantis include Dr. Michael Wasylik, who is on the Board of Medicine. He gave $3,000 to the Governor’s main campaign account in April. David Diamond, the current Chair of the Board of Medicine, donated $2,000 to DeSantis during his first run for Governor in 2018.

Maria Garcia, a lawyer from Coral Gables, gave $250 in April. Dr. Sandra Schwemmer, the Chair of the Board of Osteopathic Medicine, donated $3,000 to DeSantis in 2018. 

Before agreeing to a proposed draft rule, members of the joint committee heard from medical experts and members of the public, most of whom supported the proposed restrictions on gender-affirming care.

Many of the people who testified in support of the rule were from out of state and shared their stories about de-transitioning, including Chloe Cole and Zoe Hawes. Parent Yaacov Sheinfeld, who lives in Germany, shared his story about his transgender son and the “cult that killed him.”

Cole testified at a public meeting in support of a rule that bans Medicaid from providing gender-affirming care to any beneficiary.

Hawes and Seinfeld testified in federal court in support of the Medicaid ban after an LGBTQ group challenged it and asked that a judge issue a temporary restraining order, a request that was rejected.

Sheinfeld’s 28-year-old transgender son died of a fentanyl and alcohol overdose after, as an adult, he had surgery. But when he was cut off after the allotted three minutes, he refused to stop speaking, shouting that he had something to say and that he had traveled six hours from Germany to appear before them.

It was the second time that public testimony on the issue has been cut short and, advocates for gender-affirming care say, their voices were not heard. The Board of Medicine cut off public debate on the issue early at a Ft. Lauderdale meeting, denying dozens of people who had traveled there the ability to testify.

Zachariah, who Chaired Friday’s joint committee hearing, told Florida Politics he read the names in the order they were given to him by Department of Health staff. He started asking for public testimony from both supporters and opponents later in the meeting.

Meanwhile, two Orlando Democrats, reacted angrily to a decision to end testimony before all of those who had shown to oppose the rule had spoken.

“I have constituents in this room who were stripped away of their right to speak,” Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orlando said on Twitter. “Unacceptable but all too common under the DeSantis Administration.”

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith called the meeting a “sham.”

“They put all the speakers from out of state and out of the country who agreed with them first,” the Orlando Democrat said on Twitter. “When they ran out of people on their side, they cut off public comment from Floridians OPPOSED to the politicization of gender affirming care.”

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


7 comments

  • Fact check please!

    October 28, 2022 at 5:56 pm

    Dr. Derrick is a dermatologist. Dr. Di Pietro is a cardiologist. Maybe there is a possibility you didn’t distinguish between the two of them. Also- of note, Dr. Di Pietro voted AGAINST the rule as stated in the meeting along with a consumer member. I was there and I was appalled at how everything went down and the voting, but if we don’t have correct facts, no one will ever take us seriously…

  • Tom

    October 28, 2022 at 7:00 pm

    I got gender surgery done and it was botched.

  • Beth

    October 28, 2022 at 7:07 pm

    Any doctor who aligns himself with an ignorant, anti science, bigoted psychopath like DeSantis should lose their medical license.

  • David In Shoreline

    October 28, 2022 at 8:05 pm

    The only gender affirming care that is supported by science is affirming that boys are boys (and will always be boys) and girls are girls (and will always be girls). I’m glad Florida is respecting the science.

  • Paul Passarelli

    October 28, 2022 at 10:02 pm

    Gender affirming care should come from the parents:

    Boys play with trucks & tools
    Girls play with dolls & tea sets.

    Injecting hormones into children falls under the heading of child abuse.

    That’s what the science says!

  • Peter

    October 29, 2022 at 10:14 am

    IF a child ( anyone under 18) needs surgery, the parents MUST sign the waiver to allow the procedure
    Why should this be any different

    • Paul Passarelli

      October 29, 2022 at 10:54 am

      It’s different specifically, because it is a voluntary procedure that involved *MUTILATING* a healthy juvenile body in an irreversible way.

      Even allowing the parents to waive the doctor’s liability, does not justify the procedure.

      What are the parents basing the decision on? They’re not the ones who will be affected. They are relying on the statements of a *PRE-PUBESCENT CHILD* to manipulate their attitudes.

      This is not enrolling their child into an extreme sports training program. i.e Olympic grooming. This is a chemical & surgical intervention that will result in irreversible consequences for the child that will far outlive childish confusion.

      It is literally the proponents trying to justify child abuse. We con’t allow parents to waiver their children into sex work. How is this any different? You can’t even say it’s about money, because the procedures aren’t free.

      I’m a scientist. If I thought that eliminating a person with the genetic defect that is accountable for the gender dysphoria from the breeding gene pool was beneficial to the human species, then, my argument would be against my own interest (as a member of the h. sapiens species). But that’s not the case. The evidence shows that mutilated bodies cause severe emotional distress in a far higher percentage of people that what is normal.

      And that’s not something that can be fixed with a waiver.

Comments are closed.


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