Florida medical boards sign off on ban prohibiting gender-affirming care for kids

Florida medical boards sign off on ban prohibiting gender-affirming care for kids

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Two Florida medical boards on Friday gave final approval to rules that restrict children from receiving gender-affirming care to treat gender dysphoria, taking one more step before the state bans puberty blockers and surgery for minors.

The Florida boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine each approved separate rulemaking focusing on barring some treatments for minors as a treatment for gender dysphoria. They instead placed a much heavier emphasis on treating children with behavioral therapy.

Gender dysphoria refers to the feelings of discomfort or distress some transgender people experience when their bodies don’t align with their gender.

The Board of Osteopathic Medicine, however, voted to allow for an exemption for minors to receive such treatments if they are enrolled in an approved research study. The two boards govern themselves under completely separate rules. Florida Board of Medicine Chairman David Diamond said during the meeting that the two boards could meet in the future to discuss one identical rule.

Board of Medicine member Patrick Hunter said during Friday’s meeting that he was convinced to approve the bans after hearing previous testimony from individuals who suffered health complications that led them to stop undergoing transgender treatments.

“We have a serious problem,” Hunter said. “And what we heard from people de-transitioning last week was evidence of that.”

The rulemaking goes against recommendations made by groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society and the American Medical Association. Medical experts also have said gender-affirming care for children rarely, if ever, includes surgery. Instead, doctors are more likely to recommend counseling, social transitioning and hormone replacement therapy.

Before the ban is adopted, the approved rules will be published in a state registry, which triggers a 21-day period for public comment period that could either lead to another hearing, or the measure will take effect.

State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando), on Friday told the board they were doing the work of the Legislature.

“The voices of the parents in this room will not be erased,” Eskamani said. “I expect the Legislature to be our point of being and not the Board of Medicine.”

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly decried allowing transgender children to receive gender-affirming care such as surgeries or puberty blockers. DeSantis was an avid supporter of a 2021 law that banned banning transgender athletes from playing girls and women’s sports.

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has also warned against prescribing puberty blockers and ordering surgeries for patients less than 18 years old.

Ladapo’s guidance was followed by a recommendation made in June by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration that the state’s Medicaid program should stop paying for the same gender-affirming treatments.

In response, AHCA approved a rule in August that banned Medicaid from paying for them.


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