Florida Bans Transgender Healthcare Treatments for Minors

TALLASSEE, Florida — Transgender children in Florida will be barred from receiving hormones or undergoing surgeries to treat gender dysphoria under a rule that state medical officials approved Friday at the request of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.

The Florida Board of Medicine and the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine voted at a joint meeting in Lake Buena Vista to finalize rules governing gender assertion for health care for minors. The rule is set to take effect after a period of weeks of public input.

The ban comes as DeSantis and Republicans in other states are moving to limit access to treatments for minors, often describing them as medically unproven and potentially dangerous in the long run, as another political battle against liberal ideologies.

Many clinicians, mental health professionals, and medical groups have argued that treatments for transgender youth are safe and beneficial, despite the lack of rigorous long-term research. Federal health officials have described gender affirmation care as critical to the health and well-being of transgender children and adolescents.

DeSantis has made criticism of such treatments for minors a routine part of his re-election campaign, often referring to the procedures in graphic terms during rallies and speeches. The new policy, completed days before the election, is another example of DeSantis’ ability to harness the power of government to advance controversial political goals, cementing his national reputation as a GOP culture warrior.

Doctors are prohibited by law from prescribing puberty-blocking therapies, hormones, and hormonal antagonists to treat gender dysphoria in minors. Sex reassignment operations or other surgical procedures that alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics in minors are prohibited.

“Today’s vote by the Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine will protect our children from irreversible surgeries and highly experimental treatments. I appreciate the boards’ integrity in governing in favor of children in Florida despite facing tremendous pressure to allow these unproven and risky surgeries,” said Surgeon General Joseph Ladabo. In a statement that children deserve to learn how to navigate this world without harmful stress, Florida will continue to fight for children to be children.”

Florida health officials State Medicaid insurance banned treatments for gender dysphoria this year and issued a report that said the treatments had not been shown to be safe or effective. After the report was published, Ladapo, a DeSantis appointee, called for the adoption of new rules around therapies.

Florida has also clashed with federal health officials who advocate providing treatment for young people.

Gender-emphasizing youth health care has been a goal of Republicans in recent years. Last year, the American Medical Association issued a letter urging governors to block any legislation banning the treatment, calling such a measure a “dangerous interference with the practice of medicine.”

Arkansas It was the first state to enact such a ban on sponsorship of gender affirmation, with Republican lawmakers in 2021 overriding Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of the legislation. Alabama This year, Republicans approved legislation to ban sex-confirming drugs for transgender youth. Both laws have been paused amid unfolding legal battles.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin State, a Republican, signed a bill last month that would ban the use of federal funds earmarked for the University of Oklahoma Medical Center for sex-change treatments for minors. State also called on the legislature to ban some gender reassignment therapies statewide upon their return in February.

Top Tennessee Republicans have also vowed to push for tough anti-transgender policies. The state already prohibits doctors from providing sex-confirming hormone therapy to minors who have not yet reached puberty. So far, no one has legally challenged the law because medical experts are of the view that no doctor in Tennessee does.

In Florida, DeSantis signed a law last year that forbids transgender girls and women from playing on public school teams intended for student-athletes identified as girls at birth.

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