TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — A federal judge ordered Florida to stop enforcing its ban against providing gender-affirming healthcare to transgender children for three families, according to newly-released court documents.
On Tuesday, Judge Robert L. Hinkle, of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, issued a preliminary injunction in favor of three families with transgender children in a lawsuit filed against dozens of Florida officials, including the Florida Surgeon General, the Florida Board of Medicine and its members, the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine and its members, the Florida Attorney General and Florida’s 20 State Attorneys.
The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by seven parents, which was later amended to seek an injunction against SB-254, a recently-passed Florida law that made it illegal for doctors to provide gender-affirming healthcare to minors. The preliminary injunction concerns GnRH agonists, known as “puberty blockers,” and cross-sex hormones, known as “hormone replacement therapy” (HRT).
In Tuesday’s ruling, Hinkle said doctors for the three children told the court they were in urgent need of puberty blockers. Parents of two of the plaintiffs testified that their children’s peers do not know they are transgender. One of the plaintiffs listed in the suit is an 8-year-old boy (identified as Gavin Goe) who had his appointment at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital gender clinic in St. Petersburg abruptly cancelled after the law passed.
“Gender identity is real,” Hinkle reiterated multiple times in his ruling. He accused the defense of enforcing the legislation for political purposes and eschewing medical consensus, saying in part, “the statute and the rules were an exercise in politics, not good medicine.”
“In this litigation, the medical defendants have explicitly acknowledged that this view is wrong and that pushing individuals away from their transgender identity is not a legitimate state interest,” Hinkle wrote in the 44-page order.
Hinkle outlined the standards of care for gender dysphoria (which includes puberty blockers and HRT) as written in the DSM-5, which have been formally recognized by dozens of medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Physicians, American Medical Association, and American Psychiatric Association.
The defendants have argued that such medications are unsafe because they lack FDA approval for treating gender dysphoria. Plaintiffs say the drugs are routinely used to treat patients with precocious puberty (children who begin puberty prematurely) as well as endometriosis and prostate cancer, in some cases.
“The defendants note that 98% or more of adolescents treated with GnRH agonists progress to cross-sex hormones,” Hinkle wrote. “That is hardly an indictment of the treatment; it is instead consistent with the view that in 98% or more of the cases, the patient’s gender identity did not align with natal sex, this was accurately determined, and the patient was appropriately treated first with GnRH agonists and later with cross-sex hormones.”
Hinkle ruled that the defendants “must not take any steps to prevent the administration” of hormone blockers or HRT to the three plaintiffs. The injunction will end once a ruling is issued for the lawsuit.
Florida state Rep. Randy Fine, a Republican supporter of the bill, issued the following statement in response to Tuesday’s ruling:
“I stopped reading on page 4, when it became clear the order wasn’t worth the paper it is written on. It’s obvious that Hinkle, a Democrat-appointed judge, is a science-denying wokeist whose radical order will soon be overturned by jurists who actually believe in science. His decision is so inept that he references Legislative debate on a completely different bill having nothing to do with this issue as a reason to justify his injunction. Pathetic. We will not stop fighting to defend children from those like Hinkle who support child castration and mutilation.”Rep. Randy Fine