A recent ruling to ban health care for transgender people under the age of 18 will likely go into effect within weeks, the Floridspan Bospanrd of Medicine chair told state representatives at a Tuesday meeting of the House Hespanlth spannd Humspann Services committee.
Dr. Scot Ackerman, the first of six speakers who shared concerns about gender-affirming care for minors with the 21-member committee, said the rule by the Bospanrd of Medicine would be submitted on or around Feb. 24 for approval. If no rules challenging it are filed by the Department of Administrative Hearings, it will go into effect less than three weeks later, on March 16.
The ruling would prohibit youth from accessing hormones, puberty blockers or surgery to treat gender dysphoria even in the case of clinical trials. Gender dysphoria is defined by the federal government as “significant distress that a person may feel when sex or gender assigned at birth is not the same as their identity.”
Tuesday’s meeting was a “predicate for what’s to come,” said Rep. Randy Fine, chair of the Health and Human Services committee.
Fine, who was assigned to the position in December after he was reelected as representative of District 33 in November, has been outspoken against the use of gender-affirming care and what he has called “radical transgender ideology” on his Facebook page. In 2022, he cosponsored the Parental Bill of Rights Act, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics, which restricts discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity in elementary schools. In 2021, he cosponsored a bill requiring school sports to be segregated by sex assigned at birth. While that bill died in rules, the companion bill SB 1028, the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” passed.
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“I will tell you that when I hear this discussion, when I hear this medicine, when I hear this, I think of Dr. Mengele, who was another doctor,” Fine said Tuesday, referencing the Nazi doctor who performed deadly experiments on prisoners at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II.
Through a choked voice, he added, “You will like the bill that is coming.”
Nikole Parker, Equspanlity Floridspan‘s director of transgender equality, said the discussion was driven by politics rather than science or facts in a statement issued following the meeting.
“This one-sided discussion, which relied on fringe speakers from social media and from outside of Florida and the U.S., does not change the broad scientific consensus from our nation’s leading medical associations — that gender-affirming care improves health outcomes and saves lives,” she said.
Despite most major medical associations in the country supporting the use of gender-affirming care and an outpouring of speakers against the ban, the Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine voted in favor of passing the ruling without an exemption for clinical trials earlier this month. It will apply only to new patients, not those currently receiving gender-affirming care.
Since then, additional legislation against transgender people has been filed in Florida.
On Monday, Sen. Blaise Ingolia (R-Spring Hill) introduced SB 952 Employer Coverage of Gender Dysphoria Treatment, or the “Reverse WOKE Act,” a bill that would mandate businesses paying for employees to travel to other states for gender affirming surgery also pay for transition reversal if the employee chooses it in the future. Employees no longer working for the company would still be eligible for coverage.
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Florida’s upcoming ban is the latest in a growing trend of restrictions being placed against trans youth throughout the country. Tuesday, Mississippi’s Senate passed the Regulate Experimental Adolescent Procedures Act, which — if signed by the state’s governor — will outlaw the use of hormone replacement therapy and puberty blockers for trans youth by hospitals and organizations receiving public funds.
In Idaho, on Feb. 14, the House of Representatives voted on a bill to make providing gender-affirming care for minors a felony. The bill would ban hormone replacement therapy, puberty blockers and surgeries.
The day prior, Feb. 13, South Dakota’s governor signed a law banning gender-affirming care for trans people under the age of 18. In late January, care including puberty blockers, hormones and surgeries were banned for people under the age of 18 in Utah, the first bill banning gender-affirming care to pass this year.
Some states are also attempting to ban care for some adults. In South Carolina and Oklahoma, bills attempting to ban such care until age 26 have been filed. Kansas has filed a bill that would prohibit medical professionals from performing gender-affirming care on anyone under the age of 21 and would make such care a felony. There are some exceptions to the bill, such as in the case of someone born intersex.
Those speaking at Tuesday’s meeting brought up concerns about the long-term effects of the use of puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy and surgery in trans children, citing side effects, potential fertility issues and suicide rates among trans people as reasons to not use these medical interventions.
Speakers, most of whom have attended similar meetings across the country to speak in favor of youth health care bans, included sociologist Michael Biggs of the University of Oxford in England; Dr. Michael Laidlow, California endocrinologist; Dr. Stephen Levine, an Ohio psychiatrist; David Leatherman, a member of Gays Against Groomers; and Chloe Cole, an 18-year-old woman who detransitioned.
Fine said Dr. Sidhbh Gallagher, a plastic surgeon in Miami who provides gender-affirming surgeries, had been invited to speak. She did not appear at the meeting.