Metro Weekly

Judge Blocks Florida’s Trans Health Ban: “Gender Identity Is Real”

Judge finds law likely infringes on rights of parents of trans children to make informed medical decisions on their behalf.

Photo: David Geitgey Sierralupe, via Flickr.

A federal district court judge issued an order blocking Florida state authorities from enforcing a new Republican-backed law signed into effect by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The order also blocks rules from state medical licensing boards that prohibit transgender adolescents from receiving gender-affirming care.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle, of the Northern District of Florida, issued a preliminary injunction blocking state authorities from preventing youth from accessing care while the law and the licensing boards’ rules are being challenged in court.

The law banning minors from accessing gender-affirming care was signed into law last month by DeSantis.

It codifies rules, approved last year by the Florida Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine, prohibiting medical providers from prescribing puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or surgical interventions for anyone under 18.

In addition to prohibiting gender-affirming care for minors, the law also requires doctors to obtain written consent from adult patients using a special form.

The form, previously approved by the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine, seeks to discourage adults from pursuing gender-affirming treatments by portraying them as dangerous and experimental.

The law also prohibits adults on Medicaid from obtaining coverage for any transition-related treatments and requires adult patients to see their medical providers in person before receiving or renewing prescriptions for hormones or other medications.

Moreover, it grants Florida courts jurisdiction in child custody battles where parents living in different states disagree on whether to allow their child to access gender-affirming care.

In his ruling, issued on Tuesday, June 6, Hinkle found that a group of seven parents of transgender youth are likely to succeed in proving that the law and the licensing boards’ rules unconstitutionally strip them of the right to make informed decisions about their children’s medical care, and violate the youths’ right to equal protection under the law. 

“Gender identity is real,” Hinkle, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton wrote, in his decision issuing the injunction.

“Those whose gender identity does not match their natal sex often suffer gender dysphoria. The widely accepted standard of care calls for evaluation and treatment by a multidisciplinary team. Proper treatment begins with mental-health therapy and is followed in appropriate cases by [gonadotropin-releasing hormone] agonists and cross-sex hormones.

“Florida has adopted a statute and rules that prohibit these treatments even when medically appropriate,” he wrote. “The plaintiffs are likely to prevail on their claim that the prohibition is unconstitutional.”

The lawsuit will likely proceed quickly to trial, where the challenge to the law and the boards’ rules will be decided on its merits.

Jane Doe, one of the parent plaintiffs in the case, hailed Hinkle’s ruling as a welcome relief as she and her husband try to ensure their 11-year-old daughter — who has not yet undergone puberty — can eventually receive puberty blockers to treat her gender dysphoria when she reaches the stage of puberty referred to as “Tanner stage II.”

“My husband and I have been heartbroken and worried sick about not being able to care for our daughter in the way we know she needs,” Doe said in a statement. “I’m sure most any parent can imagine the sense of powerlessness that comes from being unable to do something as basic as get medical care for your child.

“Today my entire family is breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing we can now access the treatment that we know will keep Susan healthy and allow her to continue being the happy, confident child she has been.”

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!