On November 4, the Florida Board of Medicine voted 6-3 to block access to gender-affirming care for minors. The new rule would ban doctors in the state from providing puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgical procedures to anyone under 18.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Board describes itself as “vociferously apolitical.” However, all fourteen members are appointed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, and at least eight of them have made donations to his campaign, totaling $80,000 between them.
DeSantis himself has made anti-LGBTQ+ policy a core tenant of his administration, most notoriously in the passing of the “Don’t Say Gay” law earlier this year. Since April, he has been seeking to pass a ban on trans-related healthcare for minors. As those efforts have stalled in the legislature, the Board of Medicine is taking up the mantle.
Efforts to ban gender-affirming care have been denounced by major accredited medical groups, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association. Additionally, the Endocrine Society, “the world’s oldest and largest organization of scientists devoted to hormone research,” issued a statement in response to the Board’s ruling.
“Medical evidence, not politics, should inform treatment decisions,” the statement read. “The Endocrine Society is alarmed that misinformation about medical care recommended for transgender and gender-diverse adolescents is fueling efforts to limit access to gender-affirming care. The move by the Florida Board of Health to ban gender-affirming care based on a political agenda rather than on science sets a dangerous precedent for all health care decisions.”
Following the Board’s approval, the new rules will enter a 28-day approval process, and this can include more rounds of public comment and revision. This isn’t exactly promising, as the Board already cut the public comment section short by 45 minutes during the November 4 hearing, according to NBC News.
One person who did have the opportunity to speak was Hope McClay, the mother of a 9-year-old trans daughter. “At one point [my daughter] came up to me, at about three-and-a-half years old, and begged me, crying, and said, ‘Please, don’t make me be this way anymore. This is not who I am. I want to die,’” she said.
Afterwards, she spoke with medical professionals who recommended gender-affirming care as the best way to make sure her child is happy and healthy. “We do not make these decisions lightly, but these are the decisions that should be made by the families, not by the state, and not by a board,” McClay said.
At one point, an audience member called out the Board for putting the mental health of trans Floridians at risk. “The blood is on your hands!” they shouted. Board member Dr. Zachariah P. Zachariah responded, “That’s OK.”