DANIA BEACH, Fl. – The Florida Board of Medicine on Friday voted to accept a request by Florida’s State Surgeon General for the Board to promulgate a rule prohibiting medical professionals from providing gender-affirming medical care for trans youth.
Hundreds of advocates rallied as the Board voted to initiate the rule-making process and consider a new “standard of care” that may threaten gender-affirming care for transgender minors and could restrict that care for adults.
After an hours-long public hearing, the Board voted 13-1 in favor of accepting the DeSantis Administration’s petition for the rule-making process to begin.
The full board meeting at the Fort Lauderdale Airport Marriott was held in a conference room which saw a packed audience of members of both those in favour of trans-affirming healthcare for minors and those opposed.
“It is as basic as social transition,” said John Harris Maurer of Equality Florida. “Things like names, haircuts, the clothing that people wear, or things like puberty blockers that are about delaying the onset of puberty so that folks have more time to consider these kinds of decisions.”
Also speaking to reporters was the mother of Trans social media influencer Jazz Jennings who said her daughter wouldn’t be alive today without gender-affirming care.
“She knew with her heart and soul that she was a girl. Transgender children are at risk — 40 to 50 percent will attempt suicide. When you say to them, ‘You can’t wear this, you can’t wear that, there (are) no doctors that will treat you,’ they become suicidal.”
Anthony Verdugo, founder and executive director of the Christian Family Coalition (CFC) of Florida disagreed.
“Once they are adults they can do what they want. But minors simply do not have the mental capacity to make these life-altering decisions. Parents cannot allow a child to smoke or drink or drive a car at the age of three.”
Lambda Legal, the Southern Legal Counsel, Florida Health Justice Project, and National Health Law Program issued a statement in advance of the meeting, which said that the State Surgeon General’s proposal is unconstitutional and unlawful.
LGBTQ legal advocacy group Lambda Legal noted that Florida’s State Surgeon General Joseph A. Ladapo’s “biased and politically-motivated petition, however, runs counter to well-established medical guidelines for the treatment of gender dysphoria, such as those published by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and the Endocrine Society, and the overwhelming medical consensus in the United States and internationally, and would in effect deny essential, medically necessary, and often life-saving care to transgender people, including transgender youth.”
After hours of public testimony, including powerful personal stories from transgender people and their families and pleas to support gender-affirming care, the Board abruptly cut public comment short by one hour without explanation.
After having a mother of a trans child ushered from the room by security, they hastily voted to accept the DeSantis Administration’s petition and officially initiate the rule-making process, with what trans advocates see as bending to the will of the governor and Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo.
“Transgender Floridians and our allies showed up today with a clear message: hands off our health care,” said Nikole Parker, Equality Florida Director of Transgender Equality. “The Board of Medicine has become the latest state agency taken hostage by Governor Ron DeSantis’ runaway political agenda. They are being weaponized against transgender Floridians in this administration’s war on LGBTQ people and in service to DeSantis’ presidential ambitions. Gender-affirming care is lifesaving care. The governor’s cynical assault on that care is cruel, unconscionable, and threatens the lives of transgender people across the state.”
The Board of Medicine is just the latest in a string of state agencies that have been weaponized by Governor Ron DeSantis against LGBTQ Floridians. The Agency for Health Care Administration is currently undergoing a similar rule-making process that would strip Medicaid funding for gender-affirming care.
And in recent weeks, Department of Education Commissioner Manny Diaz issued a memo telling Florida school districts to ignore federal guidance extending Title IX protections to LGBTQ students and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is threatening the liquor license of a Miami small business in an attempt to target drag shows in the state.