Judge blocks Florida’s ban on guardianship of transgender minors

A federal judge has called Florida’s policy limiting gender-affirming care for minors and adults “unconstitutional,” making the state’s policy impossible to enforce.

“Anti-transgender opponents are, of course, free to pursue their beliefs,” Justice Robert L. Hinkle said in a 105-page decision regarding Florida’s SB 254 and similar Medical Board rules. “But they cannot discriminate against transgender people just because they are transgender.”

Hinkle wrote in his Tuesday decision that bans on the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapy in minors “even when medically necessary” to treat “gender dysphoria” is “unconstitutional.”

The lawsuit does not challenge the state’s ban on minor surgery, and the decision does not apply to it, Hinkle wrote.

MORE: Misconceptions about caring for transgender youth prompt doctors and researchers to clarify the situation

PHOTO: In this undated stock photo, someone holds a transgender flag in the air. (STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images)

Hinkle also blocked some Florida Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine regulations that limit care for transgender people, including mandatory consent forms that “contain false and misleading statements” and “interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and the appropriate informed consent process . “

The board’s rules also exclude non-physicians from providing care, require specific procedures and more follow-up visits for all patients regardless of their individual needs, and more. These restrictions on gender-affirming and other beauty treatments are currently deemed unenforceable.

“I am extremely relieved that the court found that this law has no medical basis – it was only enacted to target transgender people like me and try to push us out of Florida,” plaintiff Lucien Hamel, an adult transgender patient, said in the lawsuit. statement on Tuesday. “This is my home. I’ve lived here all my life. This is my son’s house. I can’t just uproot my family and move across the country. The government cannot interfere with people’s private medical decisions, and I am relieved to be able to get the health care I need here in Florida again.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 254 into law in May 2023.

In a statement to ABC News, DeSantis’ office said it would appeal the ruling.

“Through our elected representatives, Floridians have taken action to protect children in this state, and this Court wrongly rejected their wishes,” the statement read. “We disagree with the Court’s erroneous rulings on law, facts and science. As we have seen here in Florida, in the UK and across Europe, there is no high-quality evidence to support the chemical and physical mutilation of children.”

In March 2023, the Florida medical boards passed legislation regarding transgender care.

MORE: What is gender dysphoria and what does caring for transgender youth involve?

PHOTO: In this Jan. 9, 2024, file photo, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers his State of the State address during a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives in Tallahassee, Florida (Gary McCullough/AP, FILE)

Some supporters of restrictions on gender-affirming care for minors argue that young people should wait until they are older to make decisions about their health.

The July 2023 lawsuit filed against government officials over this policy was brought by families and patients impacted by the decision and supported by LGBTQ+ groups including the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and more.

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