A Tampa-area mother and her transgender daughter are relocating from Florida after the State Board of Medicine adopted a new rule barring transgender minors from accessing gender-affirming care.
The rule, which prohibits minors from receiving hormone therapies, puberty-blocking drugs, or gender confirmation surgery, was adopted on March 16, based on guidance from the Florida Department of Health.
The Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine is expected to adopt an identical rule later this month, and the state has already barred Medicaid from covering gender-affirming treatments for transgender adults wishing to transition.
That guidance discourages transgender minors from transitioning — not only medically, but socially, warning medical practitioners that minors with gender dysphoria should not be allowed to present or dress in a manner that does not match their assigned sex at birth.
But those restrictions are now leading some parents of transgender or nonbinary minors to consider fleeing Florida in order to ensure their children can present themselves as the gender with which they identify.
One of those parents, Heather St. Amand, a Tampa Bay area resident whose lived in the state for nearly her entire life, says the state’s recent decisions targeting those who receive gender-affirming care is motivating her to leave the state, reports Tampa Bay area CBS affiliate WTSP.
“For my daughter, if she hadn’t received gender-affirming care when she did, I don’t know that she would still be here,” St. Amand told the news station.
Although minors who were already receiving gender-affirming treatments prior to the new rule’s passage are supposed to be allowed to continue their treatments, or “grandfathered in,” many advocates worry that the rule will be strictly enforced by state authorities going forward, forcing patients to abruptly halt their transition.
Proponents of the statewide ban — the eighth such one of its kind — argue that there isn’t enough research into the long-term effects of puberty blockers and hormones to justify prescribing them for youth suffering from gender dysphoria.
But that assertion contradicts guidance from major leading medical organizations, such as the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association.
Under the rule, doctors and medical providers who prescribe gender-affirming treatments can potentially lose their licenses to practice, as well as face other consequences, reports NBC News. An additional bill making its way through the legislature, if passed, would charge providers who make such recommendations with a third-degree felony.
Florida — where Republicans have made opposition to so-called “woke” policies like diversity, equity, or inclusion and especially opposition to LGBTQ visibility a part of their brand — is also currently weighing several other bills that target the transgender community.
One bill would bar the use of gender-affirming pronouns for transgender youth in schools. Another would empower courts to strip custody away from parents who allow their children to access gender-affirming care, even if that care is administered outside of Florida. Another targets employer-sponsored coverage of gender-affirming care for adult employees or employees with transgender children.
Regardless of the state’s hostility toward the mere idea of transitioning, St. Amand believes that gender-affirming treatments saved her daughter’s life by alleviating her gender dysphoria and helping her overcome her struggles with mental health.
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