Progress At Last

Florida’s gender-affirming care ban finally gets struck down

Nothing says Happy Pride like eviscerating Ron DeSantis in court. In yet another legal victory against Florida’s anti-trans crusade, a federal judge has struck down the state’s gender affirming care ban.

The bill, which DeSantis signed into law last May, banned puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery for the purposes of treating gender dysphoria in minors, regardless of parental consent. At the same time, the law did not ban those treatments for other diagnoses, such as early onset puberty.

The law also placed restrictions on adult care, requiring a signed informed consent form (which the state delayed in issuing) and a prescription from a physician (which significantly narrowed the options for patients who rely on nurses).

Judge Robert Hinkle of the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida previously issued a temporary injunction on the law to allow a lawsuit led by trans Floridians to proceed. On Tuesday, Judge Hinkle issued his final ruling, calling out the law for what it is: unconstitutional, politically motivated discrimination.

“Transgender opponents are of course free to hold their beliefs,” Hinkle wrote in his opinion. “But they are not free to discriminate against transgender individuals just for being transgender. In time, discrimination against transgender individuals will diminish, just as racism and misogyny have diminished. To paraphrase a civil-rights advocate from an earlier time, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Hinkle pointed out the ways in which the law selectively targeted treatment for trans patients while permitting the same exact treatment for others. “The State of Florida can regulate as needed but cannot flatly deny transgender individuals safe and effective medical treatment — treatment with medications routinely provided to others with the state’s full approval so long as the purpose is not to support the patient’s transgender identity,” Hinkle wrote.

While the ruling strikes down large parts of the law, restrictions on surgery remain in effect because they were not a part of the lawsuit challenge. For minors, Hinkle commented that such surgery is “extraordinarily rare.”

This ruling comes barely three months after a court settlement clarified that Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law legally cannot be used to censor LGBTQ+ topics or library books in schools. Combine these legal defeats with DeSantis’s failed presidential run and it’s starting to seem like “woke” isn’t what’s dying in Florida.

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