Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathy Align, Advance Rule to Ban Gender Affirming Care for Trans Youth

Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathy Align, Advance Rule to Ban Gender Affirming Care for Trans Youth

TALLAHASSEE, FL -- Today, the Boards of Medicine and Osteopathy aligned the language of and advanced a proposed rule to restrict gender affirming care for transgender youth in Florida which, when in effect, will be the first ban of its kind enacted via a state agency rulemaking process as opposed to a state legislature. Similar measures passed by the Alabama and Arkansas state legislatures are currently blocked in court.

“Shame on the Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathy for continuing this assault on the health of young people and the rights of their parents to seek the best care possible for their children,” said Nikole Parker, Director of Transgender Equality. “This rule puts transgender youth at higher risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidality and strips parents of the right to make decisions about care for their kids. Those are the facts that have been purposely ignored by Boards of Medicine and Osteopathy stacked with DeSantis allies and campaign donors who have put their toxic politics over people’s health and wellbeing. Transgender Floridians exist. Transgender youth exist. Gender-affirming care is lifesaving care -- and it is care that is supported by every major medical organization, an overwhelming majority of medical providers, and should be left to young people, their families, and their doctors; not politicians.”

Despite reports that a ban on gender affirming care for transgender youth has already gone into effect in Florida, no such rule has officially been adopted or gone into effect. Today, the Board of Osteopathy adjusted the language of its proposed rule to bring it into alignment with the Board of Medicine’s rule draft. The new rule language eliminates a previously proposed exception for young people accessing gender affirming care through IRB-approved clinical trials. This shift in language finalizes the proposed rule and may trigger an additional 21-day public comment period before a final, procedural vote is taken.

Over 150 advocates for transgender youth traveled to the hearing, with dozens joining a press conference held beforehand to condemn the political moves by the Boards and the DeSantis Administration. The press event included testimony from legal experts, medical professionals, community leaders, and the voices of transgender young people and families who would be impacted by the proposed rule. The full press conference can be viewed here.  The standing room only crowd then delivered impassioned pleas to the Boards to stop the attacks on transgender youth. In powerful moments, Lola, a 12-year old nonbinary Floridian, delivered a powerful speech in defense of transgender people, and Lindsey Spero, a 25-year old transgender Floridian, used his allotted speaking time to administer his hormone replacement therapy treatment while the Boards of Medicine and Osteopathy looked on. 

This rulemaking process was initiated after Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo sent a thoroughly-debunked letter in April that officially positioned the Department of Health against lifesaving health care for Florida’s transgender youth. In the letter and subsequent appearances, the DeSantis Administration has pushed dangerous misinformation about what gender-affirming care entails, its health benefits, and the process by which families work with medical professionals to access that care. The administration even went so far as to assert that the government, not parents, knows best what clothing children should wear and which haircuts they should receive. As Governor DeSantis escalates his assault on autonomy and parental rights, he continues to stack these state agencies, appointing six new political allies to the Boards since December.

Similar policies targeting health care for transgender young people have faced legal challenges in other states, including an Arkansas ban that has been placed under preliminary injunction by a federal judge as the legal process moves forward. In that case, the court ruled that a ban on gender-affirming care would cause “irreparable harm” to trans young people and their loved ones and would prohibit “medical treatment that conforms with the recognized standard of care.” In Texas, enforcement of a rule against several families that allowed for child abuse investigations into parents who access gender-affirming care for their transgender children was also blocked, with the judge writing that “there is a substantial likelihood that Plaintiffs will prevail after a trial on the merits."

This is the first time a state medical board has been weaponized in this way to ban medical treatments for transgender children. However, the Boards of Medicine and Osteopathy are just two among the many state agencies stacked by Governor DeSantis with right-wing extremists and subverted into weapons against LGBTQ Floridians. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration’s rule ending Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care in the state went into effect this summer. The State Board of Education has adopted a new series of rules dramatically expanding enforcement of the Don’t Say LGBTQ Law, putting teachers’ licenses at risk and targeting school districts with LGBTQ-inclusive policies regarding bathrooms and locker rooms. The governor has also weaponized the Department of Business and Professional Regulation against LGBTQ-owned small businesses, opening investigations into R House, a popular Miami restaurant, and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts after hosting drag performances and formally recommending liquor license revocation for The Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation after their host venue, The Plaza Live, allowed parents to determine whether a Christmas drag show was appropriate for their children.



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