Florida medical board committee takes next step to ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans kids

Several people gather outside to show their support for gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth in the US

The Florida medical board committee approved a proposed rule banning gender-affirming medical care for trans youth, making it one step closer to reality. 

A joint committee of the Florida board of medicine and the board of osteopathic medicine advanced on Friday (28 October) that would prohibit doctors from prescribing gender-affirming treatments for minors under age 18, ABC News reported. 

The rule would bar a trans youth’s access to puberty blockers and hormone treatments, which have been described as ‘life-saving’ by researchers. The plan would also ban surgical treatments – a rare intervention for transgender youth – for minors.

It will now head to a full meeting of the joint board for finalisation and a final vote on 4 November. 

The proposed rule came after Florida’s surgeon general Joseph Ladapo in June asked the board to establish a standard for gender-affirming care, which he described as “complex and irreversible procedures”.

Equality Florida said the board was stacked by governor Ron DeSantis with “right-wing extremists and subverted into weapons against LGBTQ Floridians”

Nikole Parker, director of transgender equality at Equality Florida, said the “unrelenting transphobia” from DeSantis and the state agencies he’s “subverted for his own politician gain is putting the lives of trans young people at risk”. 

“It needs to be repeated without end: gender-affirming care is lifesaving care,” Parker said. “When we affirm young people, they are less likely to face depression, anxiety and suicide.”

She continued: “When we affirm young people, they are more likely to grow into well-rounded adults and thrive. 

“When we affirm young people, we assure them that they are perfect exactly as they are.”

Parker said the “cruelty” on display during the board’s “sham meeting”, in which trans Floridians and their allies were “silenced”, “will cost lives”. Equality Florida called on the boards to reject the “dangerous rule”.

A person holds up a sign reading 'Keep gender-affirming care' during a demonstration in support of healthcare for trans youth

Equality Florida’s Nikole Parker emphatically stated gender-affirming care is “lifesaving care” for trans young people. (Getty)

Democratic representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, Florida’s first LGBTQ+ Latino legislator, tweeted that the meeting was a “sham” as they “put all the speakers” with anti-trans stances first while ‘cutting off’ those who opposed the rule. 

“They put all the speakers from out of state and out of the country who agreed with them first,” Smith wrote. “When they ran out of people on their side, they cut off public comment from Floridians OPPOSED to the politicisation of gender affirming care.”

Jacob Wiley, a trans teen, said he wasn’t “allowed to speak” during the board meeting at a press conference for Equality Florida. 

“This rule being proposed – to put it in the easiest terms – it’s going to cause kids to kill themselves because that’s the point where I was before I was put on testosterone,” Wiley said. 

Dr Meredithe McNamara, a paediatrician and assistant professor of paediatrics at Yale School of Medicine, shot down the idea from anti-trans voices that medical transition for young people is ‘experimental’, CBS News reported.  

“To state the matter firmly and positively, gender-affirming care for gender dysphoria does meet generally accepted medical standards,” McNamara said. 

“It is not experimental or investigational. Gender-affirming care is supported by every major medical organisation.” 

She pointed out that such rhetoric contradicted the general medical consensus on the importance of gender-affirming care for young people and is “based on a solid body of evidence” of more than 16 studies. 

Florida governor Ron DeSantis speaks into a microphone and gestures with one hand in the air

Advocates accused Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who has a long history of opposing LGBTQ+ rights, of “putting the lives of trans young people at risk” by pushing an anti-trans agenda. (Getty)

The American Academy of PediatricsAmerican Academy of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryUS Department of Health and Human Services and other top healthcare bodies have all discussed the importance of gender-affirming care for trans people. 

The move from the Florida committee comes as state legislators, including DeSantis, continue to crack down on LGBTQ+ rights and identities. 

DeSantis signed the state’s reviled ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill into law in March, banning discussions of LGBTQ+ topics in kindergarten to third grade classrooms in Florida. He also signed a bill banning trans girls from playing competitive sports in the state

In August, the state’s agency for health care administration barred the use of Florida Medicaid insurance coverage to pay for gender-affirming care such as hormone replacement therapy and surgery.