Florida residents will soon get another chance to challenge the state’s impending ban on medical treatment for transgender children diagnosed with gender dysphoria. But the proposed restrictions are unlikely to change significantly as Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration takes aim at the issue.
A public hearing is scheduled for February 10 in Tallahassee. LGBTQ advocates are expected to attend and oppose the restrictions, which were approved by the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine in November.
The upcoming rules conflict with existing treatment standards that have been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, among other major medical organizations.
Once the ban begins, doctors in the state who continue to prescribe puberty blockers, hormone therapy or surgeries to treat gender dysphoria among new patients under 18 could lose their licenses.
It’s not yet clear when the ban will go into effect, but it could be as early as mid-March, said Simone Criss, director of the Transgender Rights Initiative at Southern Legal Counsel, a nonprofit law firm in Gainesville.
The hearing next month may be the last chance for residents to comment on the planned restrictions, Chris said. Based on feedback from the hearing, the medical boards could change the rules or keep them as they are.
There is currently no specific date when the ban is expected to go into effect, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Health said.
Gender dysphoria is defined as strong, persistent feelings of identification with another gender and significant discomfort and distress with the one assigned at birth.
The proposed restrictions on puberty blockers and hormone therapy would not apply to children already prescribed these drugs. They will be inherited, although it is unclear whether the clinics that treat them will continue to do so.
The Board of Osteopathic Medicine will also allow the physicians it regulates who focus on holistic health, prescribe puberty blockers and hormone therapy to new patients under the age of 18 who enroll in clinical trials at Florida medical schools. This is as long as these studies are approved by an institutional review board, which is a university committee that reviews whether the research is ethical.
The Board of Medicine rejected the same exemption for physicians who vastly outnumber osteopathic physicians in Florida.
Southern Legal Counsel plans to sue the state over the ban, Chris said.
The law firm and other groups filed a lawsuit last September challenging a state rule that bars Medicaid coverage for gender dysphoria treatment. This case is ongoing.
DeSantis, who is expected to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, has focused on limiting medical care for transgender people.
Last year, the DeSantis administration urged state medical boards to ban such care for youth and barred individuals from using Medicaid to cover the cost of gender dysphoria treatment.
Keep up with top Tampa Bay headlines
Subscribe to our free DayStarter newsletter
We’ll deliver the latest news and information you need to know every weekday morning.
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s start.
Explore all your options
Earlier this month, the governor’s budget office requested information from state universities about the services they provide to transgender people seeking care.
And in December, DeSantis appointed two doctors to the Board of Medicine and one doctor to the Board of Osteopathic Medicine who appear to have publicly opposed what is known as gender-affirming treatment for children.
• • •
How to attend the hearing
What: Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine public hearing
Where: Department of Transportation Auditorium, Burns Building, 605 Suwannee St., Tallahassee
When: 1 to 5 p.m. on February 10
Written public comments may also be submitted to the Boards of Medicine by 5:00 p.m. on February 7 at: [email protected]