TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine’s joint meeting voted 6-3 to ban gender-affirming care for minors in the state.
The vote among board members came a week after a rules workshop was held to explore ways to put limits on gender-affirming treatment for those under 18, and comments from the public.
The draft rule was called “Practice Standards for the Treatment of Gender Dysphoria.” A previous meeting, held on Oct. 28, had committee members discuss treatment rules and regulations for Florida doctors to provide gender-affirming care. They also provided opportunities to the public to express support or concern about the proposals, and hear from various subject matter experts.
Previous guidance released by the Florida Department of Health in April stated:
- Social gender transition should not be a treatment option for children or adolescents.
- Anyone under 18 should not be prescribed puberty blockers or hormone therapy.
- Gender reassignment surgery should not be a treatment option for children or adolescents.
- Children and adolescents should be provided social support by peers and family and seek counseling from a licensed provider.
The guidance released by FDOH said, “Based on the currently available evidence, “encouraging mastectomy, ovariectomy, uterine extirpation, penile disablement, tracheal shave, the prescription of hormones which are out of line with the genetic make-up of the child, or puberty blockers, are all clinical practices which run an unacceptably high risk of doing harm.”
Now, under the new rules approved at the joint committee meeting of the Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine, doctors in Florida will be unable to provide prescriptions for puberty-blocking medications or hormone therapy, nor perform sex reassignment surgeries on minor patients.
According to one of the new rules, “64B15-12.014,” the surgical rule also applies to “surgical procedures that alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics.”
The now-approved rule includes an exception for children in Florida already receiving the therapies, but blocked new patients from beginning gender-affirming care of this nature, aside from those enrolled in clinical studies.
The next step will be a 21-day public comment period before the rules take effect, according to the public book published on the topic by the Department of Health.
In response to request from WFLA.com, the Florida Department of Health provided a statement from Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, and detailed what the decision means from the department’s perspective.
“Today’s vote from the Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine will protect our children from irreversible surgeries and highly experimental treatments. I appreciate the integrity of the Boards for ruling in the best interest of children in Florida despite facing tremendous pressure to permit these unproven and risky treatments,” Ladapo said in a statement. “Children deserve to learn how to navigate this world without harmful pressure, and Florida will continue to fight for kids to be kids.”
The Board of Osteopathic Medicine voted to include a nonsurgical research exception requiring extensive protocols and assessments.
“Nonsurgical treatments for the treatment of gender dysphoria in minors may continue to be performed under the auspices of Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved, investigator-initiated clinical trials conducted at any of the Florida medical schools set forth in Section 458.3145(1)(i), Florida Statutes,” FDOH said in their statement to WFLA.com. “Such clinical trials must include long term longitudinal assessments of the patients’ physiologic and psychologic outcomes.”
The department ended the statement, saying the next step will be for the proposed rules to be noticed in the Florida Administrative Register.
In response to the decision by both Boards, Equality Florida, an LGBT rights advocacy group, called the actions dangerous.
“With young lives on the line, another state agency has placed the political ambitions of Ron DeSantis over its duty to protect Floridians,” Nikole Parker, Equality Florida Director of Transgender Equality said in part. “These rules, as written, put transgender youth at higher risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidality. Those are the facts purposely ignored by a Board of Medicine stacked with DeSantis political appointees who have put their toxic politics over people’s health and wellbeing.”