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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Florida medical boards approve measure to ban gender-affirming care for minors

New standard of care voted Nov. 4

<p>Nine members of the UF wildlife ecology and conservation department’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access Committee wrote a letter criticizing the guidelines and called upon the UF community to advocate for transgender healthcare access for children.</p>

Nine members of the UF wildlife ecology and conservation department’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access Committee wrote a letter criticizing the guidelines and called upon the UF community to advocate for transgender healthcare access for children.

In a room filled with protestors raising blue, pink and white posters with the words “protect trans lives,” the Florida Board of Medicine and the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine joint committee voted on and approved a standard of care, banning gender-affirming treatment for minors.

The Nov. 4 ruling prohibits the use of puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery that alters primary or secondary sexual characteristics to treat gender dysphoria in adolescents.

State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, expressed her disapproval with the new rule during public comment at the meeting. 

“It pains me to say this, but this rule is not being drafted in the best interest of trans people or the trans peoples’ lives in mind,” Eskamani said. “We have trans people in this room, parents of trans kids in this room, and they will not be erased.”

Once the rule is published in the Florida Administrative Register, there will be 21 days to request a rule hearing where public comment can be heard, and the rulemaking process is paused. 

It may be anywhere from 60 to 90 days before the rule goes into effect, Florida Board of Medicine Chief Assistant Attorney General Ed Tellechea said.

Gender dysphoria is a condition in which one experiences mental distress due to inconsistency between one’s gender identity and one’s assigned sex at birth, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Prior to the approval, the Florida Board of Medicine and the state Board of Osteopathic Medicine held a joint legislative committee rule workshop Oct. 28 to hear from experts and the public before developing a draft of the treatment language. The committee voted on the draft proposal Nov. 4. 

All 14 members of the Florida Board of Medicine were appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. For the past ten years, $100,000 in donations was contributed to DeSantis’ campaign from eight members of the Florida Board of Medicine, according to the New York Times

The committee included an exemption to the rule for minors who began using puberty blockers or hormone therapy prior to when the rule goes into effect.

There was another proposed exemption to the rule for minors participating in clinical trials for the non-surgical treatment of gender dysphoria; however, when members of the boards voted to strike the exemption, only the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine voted against the strike. 

The boards were unable to agree on the language, so there will be two standards of care. Osteopathic doctors and medical doctors will be regulated differently. 

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The rule applies exclusively to minors with gender dysphoria, meaning it will not apply to individuals with disorders of sexual development such as children with genetic chromosomal irregularities or individuals older than 18. 

During public comment, the crowd in the room cheered and applauded speakers that condemned the boards’ vote. 

Nathan Bruemmer, LGBTQ consumer advocate for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the only statewide appointed LGBTQ official, was the first speaker. 

“I’ve heard protect children and protect families but really who has gotten on the mic and been allowed to speak is really coming in predominantly from one perspective,” Bruemmer said. “Please allow for all families to be heard from.” 

Bruemmer’s remarks were met with applause from the audience in the room.

When President of Florida Catholic Medical Association Dr. Diane Gowski stepped up to the microphone and read from the Bible, emphasizing that a person cannot change into the opposite sex, the crowd groaned and shouted. 

“The children of Florida need and deserve your protection against all forms of child abuse including those under the guide of medical practice, so called gender-affirming care is medicalized child abuse,” Gowski said. 

Women's Voices of SW Florida President Sarah Parker pointed to potential political influence on the decision, reading out the monetary donations board members had contributed to DeSantis’ campaign.

“What you’re telling us is these seats are bought. You guys are bought. You were bought. You sold out Florida. You have stepped on your hippocratic oath, and you know it,” Parker said. 

Parker highlighted the boards’ contact information would be available to the public and the board members would be hearing from them. 

“Every person that kills themself because of this that I know, I will make sure their family contacts you,” Parker said. “Their blood is on your hands.”

Doctors in Florida will be prohibited from providing any care that’s deemed not the standard of care and could risk losing their licenses if the standard is violated, once the rule is in effect.

The rule-making process follows a string of gender dysphoria-related legislative actions by the state.

The Agency for Health Care Administration banned gender-affirming care Medicaid coverage Aug. 21, and a motion to temporarily block enforcement of the policy during a federal lawsuit against the AHCA was denied Oct. 12. 

In August, the Florida Board of Medicine initiated the rule-making process for a standard of care for the treatment of gender dysphoria in minors following a letter from Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, who also is a controversial UF hire.

Contact Melanie Peña at mpena@alligator.org  Follow them on Twitter @MelanieBombino_.

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Melanie Pena

Melanie Peña is a second-year business and journalism major. When she's not designing a graphic or writing an article, she's probably making jewelry or exploring coffee shops in Gainesville.


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