Freshman Democratic lawmaker Kristen Arrington (D) may have violated both HIPAA policy as well as House HR rules by publicly outing her transgender House aide as transgender via Twitter.
In an exchange on April 19, Rep Arrington noted “my staff member that is transgender has also received threats for speaking out against this legislation,” which was apparently in reference to her opposition to House Bill 1475 to ban transgender athletes from girls’ high school athletic programs.
The staffer’s exposure was magnified when the left-leaning Florida Politics blog Jacob Ogles retweeted Arrington’s message and tried to relate it to a controversial transgender policy being hotly debated in the Lee County, FL, school district. Ironically, the transgender House aide was defended by Rep. Spencer Roach, a co-sponsor of HB 1475 and a fierce opponent of the newly implemented policy in Lee County authorizing boys and male faculty member access to girls’ restrooms and locker rooms.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that required the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge. Gender dysphoria is a medical diagnosis protected by HIPAA. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) provides for one overarching diagnosis of gender dysphoria with separate specific criteria for children and for adolescents and adults.
The DSM-5 defines gender dysphoria in adolescents and adults as a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and their assigned gender, lasting at least 6 months.
It is unclear at this time whether the actions of Rep Arrington violated FL House policies. According to sources familiar with these policies, any actions must be initiated by a complaint from the aggrieved party. The Floridian has not received any indication that the affected staffer has filed a formal complaint, but in all cases, these complaints are kept confidential and are not generally released to the public.
Jacob Ogles stated that Rep Roach’s call to repeal the controversial school board policy allowing men in the girls’ restrooms will result in the ‘outing’ of students, but Roach pointed out that the offensive policy was just implemented this school year, and there was no previous policy that required the ‘outing’ of students. Roach believes the new gender policies create an environment where outing and bullying become much more prevalent.
Rep Roach is not alone in opposing this radical new gender policy: a letter in opposition was sent last week, led by Rep Roach and signed by other members of the Lee Delegation. A separate letter was sent by Congressman Byron Donalds, who represents SW Florida, expressing his opposition to the policy and calling for its repeal. In the wake of the controversy, Lee County School Superintendent announced his resignation earlier this month.