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Federal judge rules unconstitutional Florida's ban on gender-affirming care for minors

Caroline Catherman, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in Health & Fitness

Some of Florida’s restrictions on medical care for transgender children and adults are unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday in a lawsuit brought by transgender Floridians and their families against the state.

“Transgender opponents are of course free to hold their beliefs. But they are not free to discriminate against transgender individuals just for being transgender,” U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s decision read.

This ruling in Doe v. Ladapo prohibits enforcement of some parts of a 2023 Florida law that added several restrictions to adults receiving care, such as hormone replacement therapy, and blocked puberty blockers and hormone-replacement therapy for teenagers under 18. The suit was brought by several parents of children whose gender identity did not align with their biological sex, as well as a transgender man.

Florida is expected to appeal this ruling, said Simone Chriss of Southern Legal Counsel, one of the legal groups that filed the case.

The law was passed by the Republican-dominated Legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The judge wrote that the law showed “bias of the kind sometimes directed at racial or ethnic minorities or women but also a belief that transgenders should not exist at all—or should not be allowed to pursue their transgender identities.”

One of the plaintiffs in the case said the ruling was good news for her child.

“This ruling means I won’t have to watch my daughter needlessly suffer because I can’t get her the care she needs. Seeing Susan’s fear about this ban has been one of the hardest experiences we’ve endured as parents. All we’ve wanted is to take that fear away and help her continue to be the happy, confident child she is now,” said one of the plaintiffs in a statement. She stayed anonymous in order to protect her and her child’s privacy.

 

Puberty blockers are a reversible way to delay puberty for teens who are struggling with their gender identity. Hormone-replacement therapy is a partially-reversible process — depending on how long hormones have been taken — where people are given estrogen or testosterone in order to develop characteristics of their preferred gender identity.

The law also added several restrictions to adults receiving this care — the first state to do so — including a requirement that adults must be prescribed care by a physician rather than professionals like nurse practitioners that operate under the supervision of physicians.

In a state with a physician shortage, this made it difficult for some to get care at all. Several clinics stopped providing gender-affirming care altogether in response to this law, the Associated Press reported.

Florida’s restrictions contradicted widely accepted and long-standing guidance published by the American Academy of Pediatrics; the Endocrine Society, a global medical organization; and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, an international group focused on gender dysphoria treatment.

The suit was brought by several parents of children whose gender identity did not align with their biological sex.

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©2024 Orlando Sentinel. Visit at orlandosentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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