In less than 10 minutes, the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine voted to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth.
Those already undergoing treatment would be exempt from the rule.
The unanimous votes came down Feb. 10 after hearing two hours of public comment, mainly from transgender and non-binary people opposing the ruling.
“Despite a mountain of evidence and testimony, Florida officials give every impression that they are moving toward a pre-ordained result, ignoring the very real harms that this rule would impose on a vulnerable population,” Sarah Warbelow, the Human Rights Campaign’s legal director, said in a statement.
The two boards met in Tallahassee to make the final decision on the ruling. After recapping previous meetings, they heard testimony for hours. Then the two boards quickly made their votes to go along with rules that they drafted in November, except for the Board of Osteopathic Medicine, which voted to make their ruling even stricter and align with the Board of Medicine.
The rules state that there would be no gender reassignment surgery or any surgical procedures that alter one’s primary or secondary sex features. It also eliminates the prescription or puberty blocking hormones and hormone antagonist therapy. The Board of Osteopathic Medicine had an exemption for clinical trials, but that was removed during their vote.
The crowd shouted “Shame!” as the votes came in.
The conversation started last summer, when the Florida Department of Health called on the board to create standards of care for youth experiencing gender dysphoria. The board met multiple times throughout the fall, including August in Dania Beach, where despite hearing from transgender and nonbinary people and advocates and experts who treat people with gender dysphoria, they continued on the path to eliminate treatment.
In a petition from the Department of Health, the state made recommendations that went against those from the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Association of Social Workers, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Endocrine Society, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and World Professional Association for Transgender Health.
Since those already undergoing treatment will be allowed to continue, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida says they will be helping evaluate and schedule teens who would like to start therapy before the ban goes into effect, the Sun Sentinel reports.
Dr. Scot Ackerman, the chairman of the Florida Board of Medicine, said that they had received “hundreds of letters and comments” with “varied opinions and varied life experiences.” The only board member to speak at length was Dr. Hector Vila, who compared the treatment of gender dysphoria to the nation’s opioid epidemic in the early 2000s. As the audience booed, he said, “You can’t even make a sincere comment and so it’s hurtful to us.”
Nikole Parker, the director of transgender equality for Equality Florida, said in a statement, “Shame on the Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathy for continuing this assault on the health of young people and the rights of their parents to seek the best care possible for their children.”