Federal judge blocks Florida's youth gender-affirming care ban

A federal judge in Florida has blocked the enforcement of a statewide ban on gender-affirming care for transgender adolescents, such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy or surgeries. 

In November, the Florida Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine approved a ban that would allow them to revoke the license of any physician who offers gender-affirming treatments to minors. Although the law has not gone into effect, some of the state's hospitals have already scaled back care for transgender youth. 

Seven parents of transgender children brought a case against the Florida surgeon general and attorney general, the Florida Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine and their members, and each of Florida's 20 state attorneys. Three plaintiffs — whose children's physicians required more urgent gender-affirming care — moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, alleging the care ban is unconstitutional. 

Judge Robert Hinkle sided with the plaintiffs, issuing a preliminary injunction June 6 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida and blocking the law from taking effect. 

"Gender identity is real," Mr. Hinkle said in his order obtained by Becker's. "The record makes this clear. The medical defendants, speaking through their attorneys, have admitted it. At least one defense expert also has admitted it. Despite the defense admissions, there are those who believe that cisgender individuals properly adhere to their natal sex and that transgender individuals have inappropriately chosen a contrary gender identity, male or female, just as one might choose whether to read Shakespeare or Grisham." 

Mr. Hinkle said the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that they have obtained appropriate medical care for their children; qualified professionals have properly evaluated those children; and the parties have determined the benefits of GnRH agonists and cross-sex hormones will outweigh treatment risks. 

"I find that the plaintiffs' ability to evaluate the benefits and risks of treating their individual children this way far exceeds the ability of the State of Florida to do so," Mr. Hinkle said. "I find that the plaintiffs' motivation is love for their children and the desire to achieve the best possible treatment for them. This is not the State's motivation."

A jury trial has been set for April 15, 2024.

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