Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to reshape important medical boards that are a key component of his push to limit gender-affirming care, especially for minors.
His latest appointments are drawing fire from critics who contend the new appointees are being put in place to keep pushing ahead with a “transphobic” agenda.
DeSantis this week appointed two doctors to the Board of Medicine, both of whom have weighed in on the debate over the types of treatment offered to minors. The Board of Medicine agreed in November to alter the standard-of-care rules to ban doctors from performing gender-confirming surgeries on anyone under 18 and from supplying puberty blockers and hormones to anyone under 18.
DeSantis appointed Gregory Coffman, a pediatrician at Orlando Health Physician Associates, and Matthew Benson, a pediatric endocrinologist at Nemours Children’s Health to the Board of Medicine.
In September, Coffman, who has practiced for 28 years, submitted comments to the Board — when it was considering its new rules — that said he was “gravely concerned” about gender-affirming care.
“I have never had any discussions with parents regarding their children’s gender identity until the past 2 to 3 years,” Coffman wrote. “This explosion of gender dysphoria came out of nowhere and is very much a socially driven issue. I know that some children truly struggle with gender dysphoria, but, for most, it is transitory.”
Coffman added that “giving a child the power to make a life-altering decision at such a young age is malpractice.”
Benson, who is also an assistant professor of pediatrics at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Jacksonville, has raised questions about gender-affirming care, including signing an open letter that said the use of puberty blockers should be limited to just research.
“Without much data, it’s hard to make a conclusion that we’re doing the right thing,” Benson told The New York Times in a November article about the use of puberty blockers
That letter, signed by Benson, was also signed by Monica Mortensen, a pediatric endocrinologist who DeSantis appointed to the Board of Osteopathic Medicine in early December. The Board of Osteopathic Medicine has also passed rules related to gender-affirming care, although they did not incorporate all the restrictions adopted by the Board of Medicine.
Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat from Orlando and an outspoken critic of the push to limit gender-affirming care by the DeSantis administration, told Florida Politics that it “looks like being a transphobe is a prerequisite” to get appointed to state medical boards.
“They are both anti-trans care,” Eskamani said of Benson and Coffman. “We have legit health care issues to deal with as a state, but the two new appointments are clearly only there for one reason.”