Nov 4, 2022 - Health

Florida medical board votes to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth

Picture of transgender rights advocates

Transgender rights advocates during a rally against a proposed ban against gender-affirming care for transgender children and teens on July 31, 2022, at Orlando City Hall in Florida. Photo: Annie Martin/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The Florida Board of Medicine on Friday finalized a rule that will prohibit health providers in the state from offering gender-affirming care for transgender youth under the age of 18.

Why it matters: It's the first time that a state medical board — government bodies that regulate the practice of medicine in a state — pursues such a rule.

The big picture: While Florida is not the first state to look to ban this type of care, it's the first state to do it through the state's medical board, which is under the executive branch.

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis has said that he is opposed to children and teens accessing gender-affirming care. All of the members of the state's medical board have been appointed by DeSantis.
  • Florida lawmakers have previously attempted yet failed to pass laws banning gender-affirming care for minors.

Don't forget: Gender-affirming care is widely supported as appropriate and medically necessary by major health groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • Over two-thirds of LGBTQ youth say debates over state laws that target transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health, according to a poll by the Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth.

Catch up fast: It's the latest move by DeSantis' administration after Florida's health department released guidance in April telling health providers not to assist children and teens seeking gender transitions.

State of play: The Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine had a joint meeting to decide on the rule.

Details: The new rule allows trans youth who are already receiving gender-affirming care to stay on it, but prevents other minors from starting the treatment.

Zoom in: The rule used to have an exception for research trials, meaning that gender-affirming care would be available in research trials conducted in any of Florida's major research universities — although no such trials are currently underway.

  • However, the boards could not agree on whether this exception should be added. The board of medicine struck down that rule and the osteopathic medicine board adopted it, meaning that for the first time MDs and DOs in Florida have two different standards of care — DOs will be allowed to provide gender-affirming care for research and MDs will not.
  • The rule is set to take effect after a 21-day period for public comment.

What they're saying: One of the board members, Patrick Hunter, said that the research behind the efficacy of gender-affirming care "is poor," and added that children with gender dysphoria should instead be treated with psychotherapy.

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo celebrated the board's decision, saying that it "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."

What we're watching: The rule is expected to be legally challenged.

Go deeper: Politicians turn to medical boards to ban gender-affirming care

Editor's note: This article was updated with a statement from Florida's Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo.

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