On Friday, Aug. 5, the Florida Board of Medicine held a public hearing in Dania Beach on the state’s proposal to ban gender-affirming therapy for minors. After a morning of protests by transgender rights advocates and hours of heated public comment, the meeting ended with a governor-appointed board of directors agreeing almost unanimously to draft statewide rules to regulate gender-affirming care.
Towards the end of the gathering, transgender attendees and their supporters shouted “shame!” at the board, and some wept. Nic Zantop, a trans activist, says: New times that it was “dehumanizing to have to sit in spaces and debate our existence.”
“I don’t think they will stop. The goal is to dehumanize people,” said Zantop, who serves as the deputy director of Transinclusive Group, a non-profit advocacy organization based in Wilton Manors.
The proposal was presented to the board by the Florida Department of Health, which is seeking to ban sex reassignment surgery, puberty-blocking medications and hormone therapy for minors. The board has not yet adopted that ban; Friday’s decision kicks off a regulatory process that will determine which treatments will and will not ultimately be allowed for minors seeking gender-affirming care in the state.
dr. Lydia Fein, a gender-affirming health care provider in Miami, says the council’s ruling is a blow to an already vulnerable community.
“I’ve had patients waiting to start hormone replacement therapy, and now they’re nervous about starting it and need to stop. They’re afraid of being used in this political way. It has immediate consequences for patients and their well-being.” says Fein.
Fein encourages trans patients and those planning to start hormone replacement therapy to consult with their healthcare provider in light of the council’s decision.
The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health all agree that gender-affirming care is good medical practice for adult and adolescent patients.
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, a 2021 appointee of Gov. Ron DeSantis, told the board Friday that the long-term effects of hormone therapy and other sex-linked treatments in adolescents are not fully known. In a June letter to the board of directors, he claimed that “the current standards set by numerous professional organizations appear to follow a preferential political ideology rather than the highest level of generally accepted medical science.”
Ladapo has based many of its talking points on a June 2 report from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which viewed gender-affirming care as “experimental,” contrary to consensus among multiple professional medical organizations. The agency wants to withdraw Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming therapy for both minors and adults.
Ladapo and the DeSantis administration have advised against social transitions for minors — a remarkable step beyond many others who have argued against gender-affirming medical treatment in young people. Social transition includes non-medical measures such as name changes or shifts in clothing to accommodate one’s gender identity.
Miami State Senate candidate Janelle Perez says: New times she worries about the potential for Florida to swallow life-saving health care as a result of the state’s stance on transgender medical treatment.
“At a time when we should be expanding access to health care, the state is instead depriving children and families of life-saving resources as they use their power to target a vulnerable community. This is not freedom and it is shameful to to see our state government make us the first bully of children,” says Perez.
The board meeting Friday morning drew protests from LGBTQ activists, who gathered outside the Marriott Fort Lauderdale Airport hotel, where the event was hosted. Transinclusive Group, Prism, Equality Florida, DSA and Safe Schools South Florida were among the groups represented at the protest.
The groups say that refusing gender-affirming care will lead to an increased incidence of depression, mental illness and suicide among trans youth. Protesters covered themselves in makeshift body bags next to fake graves to draw attention to the message.
“There was a very positive tone in the morning. There was a sense of unity and strength and that turned quickly [in the board meeting] to judgment and shame, disappointment and anger,” said Franchesca D’Amore, board member of Safe Schools South Florida.
There were a handful of arrests during the event. According to eyewitnesses, two pro-trans individuals who arrived late were arrested for trespassing. A third person affiliated with the Florida International University branch of Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) was arrested after filming the scene on his live feed on Instagram, a YDSA member tells us. New times.
A woman advocating for transgender rights was forcibly removed from the meeting after she lashed out at the board at the end of the proceedings.
“You say you want to protect children – then protect children!” she screamed. “You don’t put them out on the street.”