Florida joined seven other states Thursday in restricting transition-related medical care for minors — and parents of transgender youths in the state promptly announced they plan to challenge the measure in court.
After months of tense hearings and debate, the Florida Board of Medicine enacted a rule that bars minors from starting puberty blockers or hormone therapy. Minors who were already receiving the treatment before the date the rule takes effect can continue to do so, although the rule prohibits all minors from receiving gender-affirming operations.
The Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine will enact an identical rule on March 28.
In joint public hearings for the two rules, Board of Medicine members said there isn’t enough research to justify the potential side effects of the treatments.
At a final public hearing Feb. 10, multiple people said the rule contradicted most medical evidence, as well as guidance from nearly all relevant medical associations in the U.S., including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association. But Dr. Hector Vila, a pediatric anesthesiologist and Board of Medicine member, disagreed, saying the board has “reviewed hundreds of studies.”
“We’ve talked to doctors, we’ve received testimony from both sides of this issue, and the overwhelming data does not support” the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapy, Vila said.
“This board is not against research; it is not against care for transgender children,” he said. “What the board has sought to do is to protect our children from therapies that have been shown to create irreversible harm.”
GOP-led states push to restrict gender-affirming care for trans youths
The rule is already set to face a legal challenge from a group of parents represented by four national advocacy groups: Southern Legal Counsel, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Human Rights Campaign.
One of the plaintiffs, referred to as Jane Doe in a news release, said the ban will prevent her 11-year-old trans daughter from getting the treatment she will need when she reaches puberty.
“Our daughter is a happy, confident child but denying her access to the medical care recommended by her doctors would completely disrupt her life,” Doe said, according to the release. “I’m devastated by what this will mean for her physical and mental health.”
Another plaintiff, a Florida woman who joined the suit on behalf of her 14-year-old son, said the rule strips “parents like myself of our right to ensure our children receive appropriate, evidence-based medical care.”
“My son was finally getting to a place where he felt hopeful, where being prescribed testosterone was on the horizon and he could see a future for himself in his own body, but that has been ripped away by this discriminatory rule,” she said in a statement. “I am so worried about the impact that lack of access to medical treatment will have on my child. It is every parents’ worst nightmare to have to worry about the unthinkable.”