Florida bans gender-affirming healthcare for minors

The decision endangers Trans youth and goes against recommendations from medical experts.

Florida Board of Medicine seated in front of U.S. flag votes to ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth.
Image: Twitter @ErinInTheMorn

The Florida Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine voted on Friday, November 4, to prevent minors from accessing gender-affirming healthcare.

The board voted 6-3 in a decision that will severely restrict Trans youth from accessing essential healthcare including puberty blockers and hormone therapy, only exempting minors who are currently enrolled in clinical studies regarding gender dysphoria.

The decision goes against recommendations made by medical experts including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The American Medical Association has called the vote “a dangerous intrusion into the practice of medicine” that sets an unsettling precedent for healthcare decisions that should be made between medical professionals and their patients.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the largest LGBTQ+ rights organisation in the US — also denounced the decision. HRC Legal Director, Sarah Warbelow called on the Board of Medicine to “take immediate steps to rescind this rule and provide the support that transgender youth need to thrive.” In the HRC press release, she said:

“Today’s vote to deny medically necessary, age-appropriate healthcare to Transgender young people will do irreparable harm to countless Floridian kids and their families…

“Healthcare decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis, in careful and deliberate consultation between doctors, patients, and their families, with the end goal of reducing the physical and emotional distress experienced by Transgender children.”

Several Florida citizens presented personal testimonies before the vote including parents of Trans kids who emphasised how gender affirming healthcare has significantly improved the quality of their children’s lives and helped them adjust and thrive. The vote was called before everyone was given a chance to speak.

This decision makes Florida the first US state to ban these life-saving, gender-affirming medical treatments, and the past year has seen a stark increase in the number of restrictive Trans healthcare bills throughout the country.

All board members were appointed by Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis who has misrepresented gender-affirming treatments at his rallies and speeches by describing Trans healthcare as “genital mutilation” even though youth surgical treatments are exceptionally rare. Last year he signed a law preventing Trans girls and women from participating on women’s sport teams, and earlier this year he revoked a landmark win from a Trans athlete. DeSantis is currently running a re-election campaign for governor and is contender for a US Republican presidential nomination in 2024. 

Physicians and mental health specialists agree that gender-affirming treatments are crucial to the health and well-being of Trans children and teens. The Endocrine Society which represents over 100 countries as the world’s largest hormonal medicine specialists organisation has called on Florida to reverse the ban. Their  Clinical Practice Guidelines explain that puberty-delaying medications are safe and reversible and that the same treatments are used to treat precocious puberty.

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