The Florida Board of Education targets schools; new anti-LGBTQ rules

ORLANDO — Today, the Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathy finalized their proposed rules to restrict gender-affirming care for transgender youth in the state that, when in effect, will be the only prohibition of gender affirmation in force in America. Similar moves in Alabama and Arkansas are currently stalled in court.

The council voted 6-3 (with five others not present) on Friday to pass a new standard of care that prohibits doctors from prescribing puberty blockers and hormones, or performing surgery, until the transgender patients are 18 years old. Exceptions will be allowed for children who are already receiving treatment.

The guidance landed on similar language that would ban future puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy and extremely rare surgeries as treatments for gender dysphoria in young people.

This wording included an exception for young people already receiving these treatments for gender dysphoria before the effective date of the rules. However, they disagreed on allowing non-surgical treatments for gender dysphoria to continue in Institutional Review Board-approved clinical trials.

The Board of Osteopathy approved language allowing young transgender people to access gender-affirming care via these studies while the Board of Medicine rejected this proposal, paving the way for different rules governing doctors and nurses. DO (doctors in osteopathy). No such IRB-approved study is currently being conducted in Florida.

Once the rules are released, defenders have the option to request an additional hearing and workshop from counsel, a decision the groups have said they will make. If denied, the rules move to a 21-day period in which the public can submit written comments before a final procedural vote by the councils.

The New York Times reported that before the medical board decided to develop the new standard, members received personal calls from state surgeon general Dr. Joseph Ladapo urging them to do so. Earlier this year, Florida became one of at least nine states to ban Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care, affecting thousands of low-income adults and children.

“With young lives at stake, another state agency has put Ron DeSantis’ political ambitions above his duty to protect Floridians,” said Nikole Parker, Equality Florida Director of Transgender Equality. “These rules, as written, put transgender youth at higher risk for depression, anxiety and suicidality. These are the facts willfully ignored by a medical board stacked with DeSantis political appointees who put their toxic politics above people’s health and well-being. Transgender Floridians do exist. We are part of this community. Gender-affirming care is life-saving care – and it is care that is supported by all major medical organizations, an overwhelming majority of medical providers, and should be left to young people, their families and their doctors. Not politicians. Shame on the Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathy for trading the suffering of transgender youth and their parents for cheap political points.

Dozens of trans youth advocates filled the meeting room today and thousands of people have messaged council members, since this process began, expressing their support for these young people, a show of unpopularity continued attacks on the rights of young people and their families to access the health care they need by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and his allies.

Public testimonials included the powerful personal stories of transgender Floridians, families, allies, and medical professionals, all pointing to increased risks of depression, anxiety, and suicidality among transgender youth whose identity is not known. not asserted.

Commentators also pointed to donations of more than $80,000 by medical and osteopathic board members to campaigns and DeSantis’ political committee.

The rulemaking process was launched after Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo sent a transphobic and medically inaccurate letter in April that officially positioned the Department of Health against health care for Florida’s transgender youth.

Similar policies targeting health care for transgender youth have faced legal challenges in other states, including an Arkansas ban that has been placed under preliminary injunction by a federal judge as legal proceedings progress. .

In that case, the court ruled that a ban on gender-affirming care would cause “irreparable harm” to trans youth and their families and prohibit “medical treatment that meets the recognized standard of care.”

In Texas, enforcement of a multi-family rule allowing child abuse investigations into parents who access gender-affirming care for their transgender children has also been blocked, the judge writing that “there is a strong likelihood that the plaintiffs will prevail after a trial on the merits”.

A spokesperson for Equality Florida noted in a statement:

“This is the first time a state medical board has been armed in this way to ban medical treatment for transgender children. However, the medical and osteopathic boards are just two of many state agencies stacked by Governor DeSantis with right-wing extremists and weaponized against LGBTQ Floridians.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration’s rule ending Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care in the state went into effect this summer. Last week, the State Board of Education passed a new set of rules that dramatically expand enforcement of the Don’t Say LGBTQ law, put teachers’ licensing at risk, and target school districts with LGBTQ-inclusive classroom policies. baths and locker rooms.

In July, the governor ordered the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to file a lawsuit against an LGBTQ-owned small business in Miami, threatening to strip the restaurant of its liquor license after it staged a drag performance during its weekly Sunday brunch.

Helen D. Jessen