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Judge blocks Florida’s transgender youth care ban for minors

Written by on June 11, 2024

Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — A federal judge has called Florida policies restricting gender-affirming care for minors and adults “unconstitutional,” blocking the state’s policies from being enforced.

“Transgender opponents are of course free to hold their beliefs,” Judge Robert L. Hinkle said in the 105-page decision on Florida’s SB 254 and similar Boards of Medicine rules. “But they are not free to discriminate against transgender individuals just for being transgender.”

Hinkle wrote in his decision Tuesday, that bans on puberty blockers and hormone therapy for minors “even when medically appropriate” for treatment of “gender dysphoria” is “unconstitutional.”

The lawsuit did not challenge the state’s prohibition on surgery for minors and the decision does not address it, Hinkle wrote.

Hinkle also blocked parts of the Florida Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine rules that restrict transgender adult care, including mandatory consent forms that “include false and misleading statements” and “interfere with the physician-patient relationship and an appropriate informed consent process.”

The board’s rules also exclude non-physicians from administering care, require certain procedures and more follow-up appointments for all patients regardless of their individual needs, and more. These restrictions on gender-affirming care treatments, and others, have now been declared unenforcable.

“I’m so relieved the court saw there is no medical basis for this law—it was passed just to target transgender people like me and try to push us out of Florida,” plaintiff Lucien Hamel, an adult transgender patient, said in a statement Tuesday. “This is my home. I’ve lived here my entire life. This is my son’s home. I can’t just uproot my family and move across the country. The state has no place interfering in people’s private medical decisions, and I’m relieved that I can once again get the health care that I need here in Florida.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 254 in May 2023.

In a statement to ABC News, DeSantis’ office said that they will appeal the ruling.

“Through their elected representatives, the people of Florida acted to protect children in this state, and the Court was wrong to override their wishes,” the statement read. “We disagree with the Court’s erroneous rulings on the law, on the facts, and on the science. As we’ve seen here in Florida, the United Kingdom, and across Europe, there is no quality evidence to support the chemical and physical mutilation of children.”

Florida’s medical boards passed rules on transgender care in March 2023.

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

The lawsuit, filed in July 2023, against state officials over the policies was brought by families and patients impacted by the decision, who were backed by LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and more.

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