Other states have tried to restrict such care, but Florida is the first to do so through its medical boards. The Arkansas and Alabama legislatures have approved similar measures, but families have filed lawsuits against both and judges have barred either from taking effect as the litigation takes place. Arizona lawmakers also passed a ban earlier this year, but that law has yet to take effect and activists have vowed to continue.
Several professional organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and the Endocrine Society, have endorsed puberty blockers and hormones as appropriate treatments for young people with gender dysphoria. Studies have shown that puberty blockers and hormone therapy can reduce emotional distress in transgender youth and reduce the risk of suicide.
Preventing young people from accessing such care could have “tragic health consequences”, the head of the American Medical Association said last year.
Despite this advice, conservative leaders in Florida have repeatedly tried to block young people from making the transition. Republicans tried to pass a ban earlier this year, but the bill died in committee.
In April, Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo released guidelines suggesting young people should not be allowed to socially transition using a different name, pronouns or style of dress, or to receive gender-affirming medical care such as puberty. blockers or cross-hormone therapy.
In June, citing “extraordinarily weak” evidence that supports gender-affirming care, Ladapo asked the medical board “to establish a standard of care for these complex and irreversible procedures.” DeSantis named all 14 board members, and a Tampa Bay Times analysis this week found that at least eight of them donated to the Republican governor’s campaigns or political committee.
The council met on Friday afternoon – so close to the midterm elections that a state representative, Democrat Anna Eskamani, accused the council of using the vote to drum up support for the re-election of DeSantis.
Although the joint council ultimately got public comments from 16 people — eight for and eight against the rule — members voted on the rule before hearing from the public.
In a split vote that the medical board lawyer said he had never seen, the osteopathic medical board will allow new patients who enroll in clinical trials to receive care, while the medical board will not. from Florida. This means there will be two standards in the state, one for its 57,354 physicians and another for its 7,842 osteopathic physicians. (Like physicians, osteopathic physicians prescribe medications and perform surgeries, but they follow a different four-year training process and focus on preventive care rather than treating symptoms.)
David A. Diamond, a radiation oncologist and chairman of the medical board, was one of three dissenters who voted to keep the exception for physicians as well.
“The main point of agreement among all the experts – and I must stress this – is that there is an urgent need for additional high quality clinical research,” Diamond said. “I say, let’s study it. … Let us be the light of the world as to the best care for these people. Otherwise, we will never know.
The board’s decision follows a long and emotional committee meeting in October. Committee members met for five hours in a conference room at an Orlando airport hotel, and activists who supported the ban came from across the country to testify.
Many of them said they had experienced trauma and once thought the transition would alleviate their mental health issues. They said they took cross-sex hormones and had surgeries, but later regretted those surgeries. (A group of Princeton researchers recently found that only 2.5% of transgender youth have reverted to their native gender within five years.)
Chloe Cole, who described herself as “an 18-year-old detransitioned woman” from California’s Central Valley, said she began transitioning at age 12 and had a double mastectomy at 15. She said she “deeply regrets” this procedure.
“I want to be a mother one day, and yet I will never be able to naturally feed my future children,” Cole said. “My boobs were gorgeous. And now they’ve been cremated for nothing.
Over the past six months, Cole has become one of the most prominent speakers in the detransition movement. She has testified before lawmakers in Louisiana, Ohio, DC and California. Last month, she spoke in Nashville at right-wing political commentator Matt Walsh’s “Rally to End Child Mutilation.”
At least one member of the Florida committee said she found Cole’s testimony compelling and reason enough to bar minors from receiving treatment.
Fifty trans rights activists attended the committee meeting, and several registered to speak, but only one, Jude Speegle, had time during the public comment period. Speegle read the names of 17 trans teens who “chose suicide over living in a world that refused to recognize or accept them.”
Shortly after Speegle ended, the committee’s chairman, Fort Lauderdale cardiologist Zachariah P. Zachariah, cut the meeting short. When the crowd complained that Zachariah had barred them from speaking after allowing nine detransition activists to testify, Zachariah told the crowd to email him.
The crowd protested and started shouting, “Their blood is on your hands.
Zachariah, a longtime board member who wrote a check for $25,000 to Friends of Ron DeSantis in May, remained unfazed.
“It’s good,” he said.
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