Florida bans gender-affirming care for youth


The Florida Board of Medicine and the state Board of Osteopathic Medicine voted at a joint meeting Friday to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

The Associated Press reported that rule prohibits doctors from prescribing puberty-blocking, hormone and hormone antagonist therapies to treat gender dysphoria in minors. It bans sex reassignment surgeries or other surgical procedures that alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics in minors.

“Today’s vote from the Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine will protect our children from irreversible surgeries and highly experimental treatments. I appreciate the integrity of the Boards for ruling in the best interest of children in Florida despite facing tremendous pressure to permit these unproven and risky treatments. Children deserve to learn how to navigate this world without harmful pressure, and Florida will continue to fight for kids to be kids,” Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said in a statement.

Activists condemned the decision.

“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,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. The decision was based upon incomplete data and manipulated claims that do not reflect science, medicine, or any other evidence-based approach to life-saving, medically necessary care. It defies the recommendation of every major medical association.”

“With young lives on the line, another state agency has placed the political ambitions of Ron DeSantis over its duty to protect Floridians,” Equality Florida’s Director of Transgender Equality Nikole Parker said in a statement. “This rule, as written, puts transgender youth at higher risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidality. Those are the facts purposely ignored by a Board of Medicine stacked with DeSantis political appointees who have put their toxic politics over people’s health and wellbeing.”

Florida’s Board of Medicine is the 15-member medical board responsible for licensing Florida doctors; setting rules for physicians, and disciplining them for infractions such as health care fraud or false advertising. State law says the board can establish standards of care for medical practices via a rule-making process and can discipline doctors for violating its rules. Among other penalties, the board has the power to revoke medical licenses or impose fines. The board is part of the Department of Health, which Ladapo oversees. DeSantis appoints board members, who are confirmed for four-year terms.

Every major medical association, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, has said gender-affirming care for youth is safe and life-saving.

Gender-affirming medical care, such as hormone therapy, is associated with positive mental health outcomes including showing promise for reducing suicide risk. A 2021 peer-reviewed study by The Trevor Project’s researchers, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that gender-affirming hormone therapy is significantly related to lower rates of depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts among transgender and nonbinary youth.