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Judge Tears Into Florida's Ban on Gender-Affirming Care

Judge Tears Into Florida's Ban on Gender-Affirming Care

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The judge partially stopped the law from being enforced.

A federal judge has partially blocked enforcement of Florida’s ban on health care for transgender children.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued a preliminary injunction on both a newly signed law and decisions by the Florida Board of Medicine restricting doctors from prescribing puberty blockers and hormone replacement treatment, which has affected both trans youth and adults.

More than just stopping enforcement for now for the families who brought the case, Hinkle also struck a blow in his injunction at arguments by Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration that children cannot have a gender identity different from their sex as assigned at birth.

“Gender identity is real,” Hinkle writes bluntly.

The judge noted that widely accepted standards within medical associations recommend these treatments as for gender dysphoria patients, including minors.

“Florida has adopted a statute and rules that prohibit these treatments even when medically appropriate,” Hinkle wrote. He added that both bans were "purposeful discrimination against" transgender people.

The judge called out the conflicting views of state officials in the injunction, who he writes both say trans people exist and that gender identity "is made up."

"Any proponent of the challenged statute and rules should put up or shut up: do you acknowledge that there are individuals with actual gender identities opposite their natal sex, or do you not? Dog whistles ought not be tolerated," he said.

Hinkle also wrote, "I find that the plaintiffs' motivation is love for their children and the desire to achieve the best possible treatment for them. This is not the State's motivation."

He found that the bans are likely to be found unconstitutional.

"This injunction is extremely limited in scope. In this case, a single judge has decided that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones should be made available to three young children. Florida's law otherwise remains in effect," Jeremy Redfern, press secretary for DeSantis, said in a statement to The Advocate. "We obviously disagree with the judge's ruling. We will continue fighting against the rogue elements in the medical establishment that push ideology over evidence and protect against mutilating our kids."

The injunction comes after seven parents of transgender children sued Florida Surgeon General Joe Ladapo and the state over the restrictions. Several of those parents, including one whose doctors say she needs immediate access to puberty blockers, asked the judge to stop enforcement until the case can be ruled on in court.

That parent, identified in the lawsuit only as Jane Doe, said the decision to stop enforcement, for now, will bring immediate relief to the family and those in similar situations.

“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,” the mother said.

“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.”

Southern Legal Counsel, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Human Rights Campaign are providing legal representation for families suing Florida. The groups issued a joint statement cheering Hinkle’s decision.

“Today’s ruling is a powerful affirmation of the humanity of transgender people, the efficacy of well-established, science-based medical care, and of the rights of parents to make informed healthcare decisions for their children,” the statement reads.

“The court recognized the profound harm the state of Florida is causing by forcing parents to watch their kids suffer rather than provide them with safe and effective care that will allow them to thrive. We are incredibly relieved that these Florida parents can continue to get healthcare for their children while we proceed to challenge these bans and eventually see them fully overturned.”

LGBTQ+ rights group Equality Florida welcomed the news as well.

“This ruling is an important win for those challenging the dangerous ban on gender-affirming care and an unwavering endorsement of the right of transgender people to be treated with dignity and respect,” Jon Harris Maurer, the group's public policy director, said in a release. “Judge Hinkle was unequivocal: Transgender people are real and deserving of lifesaving healthcare.”

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