Transgender minors in Florida have been barred from receiving hormones or undergoing surgeries to treat gender dysphoria, under a rule approved Friday by state medical officials at the urging of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis .
Gender dysphoria is the feeling of discomfort or distress that can be felt by people whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned at birth or from physical characteristics related to sex.
Florida has effectively banned drugs and surgery for new teen patients seeking gender transitions, after an unprecedented vote by the state medical board, according to The New York Times.
The move makes Florida one of several states to restrict what is known as gender-affirming care for teens, but the first to do so through the actions of its Board of Medicine, whose 14 members were appointed by Gov. DeSantis. The strategy sidestepped the Republican-controlled state Legislature, which had twice refused to accept a bill intended to restrict such treatment.
The board voted 6-3 (with five others not present) on Friday to adopt a new standard of care that prohibits doctors from prescribing puberty blockers and hormones, or performing surgery, until transgender patients are 18 years old . Exceptions will be allowed for children who are already receiving treatments.
Many doctors, mental health specialists, and medical groups have argued that treatments for transgender youth are safe and beneficial, although rigorous long-term research is lacking. Federal health officials have described gender-affirming care as crucial to the health and well-being of transgender children and adolescents .
The decision comes four days before the state's gubernatorial race concludes with elections and as Conservatives have embraced gender-related health care for adolescents as a key issue on the national political stage.
DeSantis, a Republican believed to have presidential ambitions, declared in a recent debate that such treatments would not be allowed in Florida.
Before the medical board decided to come up with the new standard, members received personal calls from the state's surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, urging them to do so.
Earlier this year, Florida became one of at least nine states that banned Medicaid coverage of gender-affirming care, affecting thousands of low-income adults and children.
Some states have been successful in passing and enacting laws to restrict transgender people's access to health care.
- Arkansas in 2021 became the first state to make gender-affirming care illegal, but the ban is temporarily blocked and is being challenged.
- Arizona enacted a law that prohibits gender-affirming surgeries from being offered to trans youth under the age of 18. The ban goes into effect at the end of March.
- Alabama earlier this year enacted a law making it a felony to provide gender-affirming care. The law was temporarily blocked shortly after it went into effect and a lawsuit is ongoing.