Puberty-blocking hormones and gender-affirming surgeries policies become stricter in Florida

ORLANDO, Florida — At the request of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office, a board that oversees doctors took away an exception for research on Friday. This made it harder for minors to get hormones that stop puberty or surgeries that change their gender.

After the vote by the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine, some people in the audience at the meeting in Tallahassee yelled obscenities, and police officers moved to the front of the room.

At a meeting of the osteopathic medicine board and the Florida Board of Medicine that was packed with people, one person after another said that gender-affirming treatment had been “magical” and like “opening a prison door” for them or their children. This led to the decision. During his testimony, one adult transgender man gave himself a shot of hormones in front of the doctors’ boards. Others said that treatment kept them from “fighting with themselves” and thinking about killing themselves.

“I’m a teenager. “If I hadn’t gotten this medicine at this important time in my life, I would still be waiting for my life to begin,” said L.J. Valenzuela, a transgender high school student who was getting hormone replacement therapy.

Judy Schmidt told the board members that she worries that her trans son, who told her he was a boy when he was 6, will have been socially transitioning for four or five years before he hits puberty and won’t be able to get the gender-affirming care he needs. Her son told her he was a boy when he was six years old.

Schmidt told the mostly doctor-led boards, “As doctors, you’re not supposed to hurt anyone.” “If you use this rule as a general rule, you are hurting yourself.”

Last fall, the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine passed rules that made it illegal for minors to have gender-affirming surgery or take hormones to stop puberty. However, minors who were taking puberty blockers before the rules went into effect could still take them. The board of osteopathic medicine made an exception for clinical research trials that looked at how the treatments worked over time.

During Friday’s meeting, the Florida Department of Health asked the boards to change the rules to get rid of the exception for research that the osteopathic medicine board had. Last year, the health department of the DeSantis administration asked the boards to ban gender-affirming treatment for minors in Florida. This was the first step. Many people think that DeSantis is thinking about running for the Republican presidential nomination. In 2021, he signed a bill that said transgender girls and women couldn’t play on public school teams for girls who were born female.

John Wilson, the general counsel for the Department of Health, told the boards that the exception would cause confusion because one board let it happen and the other didn’t.

Wilson said, “The department is worried that the exception will make this rule less useful than it was meant to be.”

A Democrat from Orlando named Anna Eskamani said that the ban on gender-affirming care was done for political reasons.

Eskamani said, “We shouldn’t make policy based on who can use it in a fundraising letter.”

Hector Vila is a member of the Florida Board of Medicine. He disagreed with that explanation of what the board did.

A Tampa doctor named Vila said, “This isn’t about transphobia or homophobia.” “It has nothing to do with politics.”

Alfred Duncan

Alfred Duncan is a senior editor at The South Florida Daily, where he oversees our coverage of politics, misinformation, health and economics. Alfred is a former reporter and editor for BuzzFeed News, National Geographic and USA Today.

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