ORLANDO, Fla. – A Florida Board of Medicine panel signed off on a draft rule Friday that would restrict doctors from providing gender-affirming treatment to children and adolescents.
The proposal will go for a final vote Nov. 4 by the full board.
The rule, which has been pushed by Gov. DeSantis’ administration, would prohibit doctors from prescribing puberty-blocking, hormone and hormone “antagonist” treatments for anyone under 18 years of age.
During the meeting in Orlando, board members heard presentations and questioned several medical experts. There was also public comment from people on both sides of the hot-button issue.
“It’s lifelong altering effects for children,” Blaise Trettis said. “I don’t think they’re emotionally or psychologically capable of making that lifelong decision.”
Amy Rachel is a transgender woman and attended the meeting to oppose any ban on treatments.
“It’s just plain wrong. People’s lives are at stake here,” Rachel said. “Some are deliberately spreading misinformation about the transgender community and about the kinds of treatments that are available and given.”
The move by Florida health officials has been controversial because it discards research and standards already approved by groups like the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Endocrine Society.
Florida Department of Health guidelines state that gender dysphoria treatments can have long-term, irreversible effects on children. FDOH defined gender dysphoria as “a strong, persistent cross-gender identification associated with anxiety, depression, irritability and often a wish to live as a gender different from the one associated with the sex assigned at birth.”
However, the American Psychiatric Association says there are no studies that anxiety, depression and other disorders cause gender dysphoria. The APA says those symptoms associated with anxiety or depression typically decline or disappear when the patient is in a supportive environment.
The Office of Population Affairs (OASH) previously released a report declaring gender dysphoria treatments — also called gender-affirming care — as “supportive” and “crucial” for transgender children and adolescents.
However, FDOH released a fact check earlier this year regarding the OASH’s claims, criticizing the research used and citing studies about the potential health consequences for such treatments.
The FDOH said that there are no high-quality long-term studies about the effects of treatments for gender dysphoria, saying that most children who identify as transgender will detransition following the onset of puberty.
A study of 720 patients from researchers in the Netherlands showed 98% of adolescents who started puberty blockers continued with gender-affirming care as they got older. The study was released just this month in the journal Lancet.
Other studies that OASH used in its report state that because temporal data and samples are limited, it’s difficult to properly estimate the long-term impacts of gender dysphoria treatments for children.
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