Florida medical board votes to advance gender affirming health care ban

Ron DeSantis, Disney, Florida, district
Gov. Ron DeSantis Photo: Shutterstock

On Friday, Florida’s Board of Medicine voted to begin the process of adopting a new standard of care for transgender individuals which could ban gender-affirming care for minors in the state.

The new rules proposed by Florida’s Health Department in April would prohibit gender-affirming surgical procedures, medications like puberty blocker and hormone therapy, and “any other procedure that alters primary or secondary sexual characteristics for the treatment of gender dysphoria” for patients under 18. They would also institute a mandatory 24-hour waiting period for adults seeking gender-affirming care.

Gender-affirming care for both adolescents and adults has been endorsed by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, and many other professional groups as necessary and frequently lifesaving for transgender individuals. Vice News reports that 10 researchers whose work was cited in Florida’s guidance say that their research was misrepresented or distorted to justify denying gender-affirming care.

In a joint statement rejecting the new guidelines, Lambda Legal, Southern Legal Counsel, Florida Health Justice Project, and the National Health Law Program said, “Existing, well-established, and evidence-based guidelines already guide health clinicians in prescribing treatments for gender dysphoria.”

“The proposal is based on clear animus towards transgender people as well as junk science,” the statement continued.

“This has been pushed to the board as a political maneuver,” University of Florida Professor and Chief of Pediatric Endocrinology Michael J. Haller told the board members during Friday’s hearing. “Trans people have always existed, they will always exist, whether you choose to acknowledge that or not.”

During a press conference, transgender rights advocate and mother of TV personality Jazz Jennings Jeanette Jennings criticized the proposed rules for banning even social transitions, which are about a trans person being socially accepted as their gender and involve being called by their preferred name and pronouns and wearing clothes associated with their gender.

“What kind of world would we be living in if the Department of Health dictates what haircuts and clothes kids can have?” she said.

The Florida International University chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America documented the hearing as well as protests outside on Twitter. One trans woman who spoke out just before the board voted to consider the rule change was reportedly escorted out of the hearing by police. Outside, protester opposing the new anti-trans guidelines staged a die-in. Some protesters were reportedly arrested for trespassing at the hearing, which was open to the public.

During a press conference last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) compared gender-affirming surgical procedures to castration and said that doctors who perform the procedures should be sued. DeSantis also suspended state attorney Andrew Warren, the elected Democratic state attorney for Hillsborough County, after Warren pledged not to enforce laws prohibiting gender-affirming care for transgender youth and prosecuting people who aid, abet, or receive an abortion.

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