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Florida bans gender treatments for minors

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Florida’s medical boards on Friday voted for a rule that will ban doctors from providing gender-affirming treatment or surgeries to patients under the age of 18, media reports said.

The measure, which will take effect after a three-week period for public comment, will prevent doctors in the southern state from performing sex-reassignment surgeries on minors or prescribing them drugs, including puberty blockers, as part of a course of gender transition, the New York Times reported.

The decision by Florida’s boards of medicine and osteopathic medicine will not apply to patients who have already started one of those treatments.

The board of medicine’s 14 members was appointed by Republican state Governor Ron DeSantis, who in March signed a law prohibiting the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in elementary school classrooms.

Equality Florida criticized the move to ban treatment as putting transgender youth at risk.

“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, the group’s director of transgender equality, said in a statement.

“These rules, as written, put transgender youth at higher risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidality.”

DeSantis, a darling of right-wing Republicans who is seeking re-election and is also believed to harbor presidential ambitions, has spent months criticizing gender transition treatments for adolescents.

During a televised debate last week with his Democratic rival Charlie Crist, DeSantis claimed that “a lot of the dysphoria resolves itself by the time they become adults” and compared gender treatments to “chemically castrating” teenagers.

In August, his administration banned funding for gender transition treatment through Medicaid, a major US government public health program for low-income people.

In the United States, several medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have defended current treatments for gender dysphoria.

The states of Arkansas and Alabama have passed laws prohibiting doctors from performing gender-affirming treatments on teenagers, but these measures are currently blocked by court rulings.