Apr 20, 2022 - Health

Florida advises against transition for transgender teens

Illustration of a red circle, with the state of Florida forming a bar across it, with the transgender pride flag underneath.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Florida Department of Health put out a statement Wednesday telling doctors not to assist children and teens with gender transitions — a move that goes against federal guidance.

Driving the news: The department now advises against hormonal therapy and gender-affirming surgery for children and teens, citing a "lack of conclusive evidence, and the potential for long-term, irreversible effects."

  • It also advises against social transition, which could include using a different name or pronouns and dressing differently.
  • Children and teens should instead "be provided social support by peers and family and seek counseling from a licensed provider."

This contradicts federal guidance and guidance from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

Of note: The guidelines don't apply to intersex children, a group for which LGBTQ and human rights advocates don't recommend surgery until the person is old enough to decide for themselves.

Between the lines: The guidance doesn't have any reporting stipulations or requirements for health providers, so as of right now there’s no way enforce it or punish providers for going against guidance.

The other side: LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Florida told Axios the administration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis "seeks to replace science and the safety of young people with political propaganda."

  • "This guidance demonizes life-saving, medically-necessary care, and asserts that the government, not parents, knows best when it comes to health care for our children. ...
  • "Parents should be deciding, in partnership with their child's doctor, based on science, not politics, what is best for their children."

Flashback: DeSantis recently signed a controversial bill banning classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through 3rd grade.

  • Last month he issued a proclamation declaring the Florida-based runner-up in the NCAA 500-yard women's freestyle event the "rightful winner" after Lia Thomas, a transgender woman, won the event.
  • A law he passed last year bans transgender athletes from competing in women's and girls' sports.

The backdrop: 2021 saw a record number of anti-trans bills introduced in state legislatures.

  • Over two-thirds of LGBTQ+ youth said recent debates over state laws that target transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health, according to a poll by the Trevor Project.

Editor's note: This is a breaking news story. Check back for further updates.

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