Florida Medical Board decides to block gender-affirming treatments for minors

Michael J. Haller, a University of Florida professor and chief of pediatric endocrinology, who testified at the hearing as an expert, called the proposal a political stunt.

“It was presented to council as a political maneuver,” Haller told council members. “Trans people have always existed, they always will, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.”

The medical board was following advice from the Florida Department of Health, which said there was not enough research and evidence to show that such care was safe.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association support gender-affirming care for adults and adolescents. But medical experts said gender-affirming care for children rarely, if ever, includes surgery. Instead, doctors are more likely to recommend counseling, social transition, and hormone replacement therapy.

The proposed rule is the latest move by the DeSantis administration to strengthen regulatory controls over gender-affirming care. Florida’s Medicaid regulator is also considering a rule that would prevent state-subsidized health care from paying for treatments for transgender people.

DeSantis has publicly expressed his opposition to transition-related medical care. At a press conference earlier this week on opioid addiction, he said doctors who perform gender-affirming surgeries should be prosecuted and equated with castration. He also recently suspended Tampa’s top prosecutor, Andrew Warren, in part because the state’s attorney voiced support for transition-related medical care.

Friday’s medical board vote begins a process to update the standard of care for gender-affirming treatments in Florida, the nation’s third-most populous state.

Some members of the public at Friday’s hearing became unruly and shouted obscenities at council members. Broward County sheriff’s deputies removed some members of the public, including one person who said the ban would drive some children into homelessness.

Atlanta-based endocrinologist Quentin Van Meter, who also appeared before the board as an expert at the Fort Lauderdale meeting, was in favor of banning such treatments, saying interest in care claiming the genre had been boosted by the internet and blamed Covid-19 isolation for young people’s increased interest in transition-related medical care.

“They live the internet life,” Van Meter said. “This is a giant experiment on American children. Anyone suggesting these things as standard of care – it’s a mirage.

Van Meter, an outspoken critic of gender-affirming care, had previously been disqualified as an expert by a Texas judge overseeing a divorce case in which van Meter was to testify about whether a young transgender person should receive blockers. of puberty.

Haller told the board that Van Meter’s assessment of the internet and children locked at home due to the pandemic was not the scientific discussion the board originally committed to having.

“To say it’s because of some social media contagion is nonsense,” Heller said, later adding, “I suggest we stick to the science topic.”

Haller was joined by University of Florida pediatric endocrinologist Kristin Dayton, who told the council that the standard of care she follows to treat gender dysphoria includes restrictions based on the child’s age. child. Treatments, she said, are usually limited to older teenagers around 17 years old.

The medical board also heard more than an hour and a half of public testimony, including from Pompano Beach resident Ernie Sauve, who compared wanting to be transgender to wanting to be of another ethnicity.

“I may identify as Hispanic, but that doesn’t make me Hispanic,” he said.

Kaleb Hobson-Garcia, a 20-year-old student at Florida State University, said he received gender-affirming care when he was 12 and expressed his support for such therapies. . Hobson-Garcia said her experience provided a wealth of information about such treatment.

“I urge you to think of children like me, who have had fear and found comfort in being able to receive needed health care,” Hobson-Garcia said. “My identity is not an epidemic.”


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