Florida’s health department makes chilling move to block social transition and healthcare for trans kids

Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, wears a dark suit with a blue tie while addressing attendees at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference

Florida’s health department has issued chilling guidance to block medical care and even social transition for trans kids in the state.

The guidance, issued by Florida’s department of health on Wednesday (20 April), contradicts federal guidance and guidance from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and states that “anyone under 18 should not be prescribed puberty blockers or hormone therapy”.

It also appears to promote conversion therapy, stating that trans “children and adolescents should… seek counselling from a licensed provider”.

The guidance has echoes of a directive released by Texas governor Greg Abbott in March, which urges Texans to report families providing their trans kids with gender-affirming medical care, framing it as “child abuse”.

However the Florida guidance, signed by governor Ron DeSantis and state surgeon general Joseph Ladapo, takes the attack on trans kids a step further, declaring that even social transition, for example a change in name, pronouns or dress, “should not be a treatment option for children or adolescents”.

It is currently unclear what the real-life impact will be on trans kids in Florida, but considering DeSantis’ record on legislating against the existence of LGBT+ people, the guidance has activists and the wider trans community deeply concerned.

Equality Florida described the guidance as “non-binding”, but said in a statement: “Once again, Ron DeSantis seeks to replace science and the safety of young people with political propaganda… The guidance demonizes life-saving, medically-necessary care, and asserts that the government, not parents, knows best when it comes to health care for our kids.

“DeSantis wants government to intrude into doctors’ offices to pander to extremists in service to his ambitions.”

The attack on the rights of the parents of trans children is ironic, considering that DeSantis recently signed into law the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

DeSantis has claimed that the bill gives parents greater control over what their children are taught in school, but it bans the discussion of LGBT+ topics in classrooms, regardless of parents’ wishes.

Equality Florida continued: “Parents should be deciding, in partnership with their child’s doctor, based on science, not politics, what is best for their children.

“DeSantis’ runaway agenda of banning books, muzzling teachers, censoring history, and pushing government control is putting a handful of extremists in charge of every aspect of the lives of Floridians and is making the state less safe for LGBTQ families, especially trans kids.”

The ACLU added: “This is a desperate effort to sow lies and fear about transgender youth, their parents, and their health care.

“Trans youth know who they are. We’re ready to do everything in our power to defend the fundamental rights of trans youth and their families.”