TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — On Friday, the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine held a joint meeting to revise language in new rules that ban treatment and surgical body mutilation for minors who have been told they are transgender and are enrolled in clinical trials and studies at state universities.
Last November, the Boards updated the medical standards practice in Florida to prohibit healthcare professionals from beginning treatment for gender dysphoria in kids and teens under 18 years of age.
But the Board of Osteopathic Medicine left an exception to its rule that would have allowed kids who have been told that they are transgender and are participating in studies conducted by state universities to receive medical treatment. On Friday, the Osteopathic Board removed that exception, aligning the two boards’ rules.
NO APPROVAL GOING FORWARD
Gender dysphoria is the discomfort and mental stress experienced by those who feel their current identity differs from their sex at birth – a condition that usually resolves itself as children mature, according to a follow-up study in 2021 of children experiencing gender dysphoria.
Under the rules, minors already undergoing treatment with puberty blockers or hormone therapies would be allowed to continue the treatment. But children and parents seeking puberty blockers, hormones, or surgeries for them that damage healthy body parts leading to infertility would not receive approval.
“LESS HARM NEEDS TO BE DONE”
Dr. Patrick Hunter, a pediatrician serving on the Florida Board of Medicine, said “ethical, compassionate psychotherapy that respects the child’s experience” is preferred. Hunter said he believes that “less harm needs to be done” to Florida's young population who may be experiencing gender dysphoria.
As Florida’s Board of Medicine worked to protect children, activists in attendance argued that mainstream groups, such as the Endocrine Society, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association publicly support the body mutilation of children.
TRANS ACTIVISTS OBJECT
Lola Smith, a 12-year-old who describes herself as “nonbinary,” asked the board to reverse the rules.
“The most embarrassing moment of my life is happening right now as I stand in front of a panel of strangers and publicly beg for my right to exist. How did we get here? Politicians are using kids like me to get votes from people who hate us,” said Smith.
Lindsey Spero, a 25-year-old trans advocate in favor of body-mutilating procedures for children injected male hormones while standing in front of the board.
“My medication is lifesaving. Your denial of my need for this medication doesn’t make my existence as a trans person any less real,” said Spero.
CHAIRMAN PUSHES BACK
Chris, a lawyer at Friday's hearing, said, “we know based on the overwhelming weight of evidence and science that access to treatment for gender dysphoria is safe, effective and medically necessary. And stripping children in Florida of that care harms them, in no way protects them.”
But Florida’s Board of Medicine Chairman Scot Ackerman pushed back, arguing “there's not adequate evidence to support the use” of the treatments.
“What the board has sought to do is protect our children from therapies that have irreversible harm. So it’s a very limited set of therapies that have been restricted, but this board still wants these patients cared for, absolutely,” he said.