A judge invalidated a Florida law banning medical care for transgender children

A federal judge declared on Tuesday that Florida’s limitations on transgender children’s access to medical treatment are unconstitutional, overturning a top objective for Governor Ron DeSantis.

With his ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle struck down a large portion of a 2023 statute and state board-approved regulations that forbade minors from receiving hormones and puberty blockers, two common medical treatments for gender dysphoria.

In his 105-page ruling, Hinkle stated, “Florida has adopted a statute and rules that ban gender-affirming care for minors even when medically appropriate.” “It is unconstitutional to ban.”

The transgender plaintiffs’ attorneys contended that DeSantis’s signing of the measure constituted discrimination and “animus” toward the transgender community. According to the state, the treatments are the target, not the transgender individuals.

Hinkle, a judge nominated by former President Bill Clinton, ruled that it was “obvious that anti-transgender prejudice” drove the bill’s proponents and a few lawmakers who supported it.

Hinkle stated, “Of course, transgender opponents are free to hold their beliefs.” However, companies are not allowed to treat transgender people unfairly just because of their gender identity. As racism and misogyny have declined over time, so too will discrimination against transgender people. The moral cosmos has a long arc that bends toward justice, to borrow the words of a civil rights activist from before.

Hinkle cited remarks made by DeSantis and House members regarding the castration or sterilization of young children as a result of gender dysphoria medical procedures. Hinkle claimed that there was no factual basis for the state’s admissions during the trial, and that there was no proof in the record that any child in Florida had been “castrated or mutilated.”

Hinkle remarked, “Maybe all this talk about mutilation and castration is just political hyperbole.” “However, it raises at least some questions about the claim that these decision-makers were driven more by sound medical care regulation serving transgender patients’ interests than by outright opposition to transgender identity.”

Hinkle overturned regulations that prohibited children with gender dysphoria from receiving medical care as well as those requiring transgender individuals to only receive care from doctors and not from other types of healthcare professionals.

Hinkle overturned Florida’s Medicaid coverage ban for gender dysphoria therapies last year as well. Opponents contend that the state has been disobeying Hinkle’s order and continuing to deny Medicaid coverage, and the state is appealing that decision.

According to Jeremy Redfern, DeSantis’ press secretary, the state will also file an appeal of Hinkle’s most recent decision.

In an email, Redfern said, “The people of Florida took action to protect children in this state through their elected representatives, and the Court was wrong to override their wishes.” We reject the Court’s incorrect decisions regarding the law, the facts, and the science. As we have seen in Florida, the UK, and throughout Europe, there is insufficient evidence to justify the physical and chemical mutilation of minors. Children who undergo these treatments suffer long-term, life-altering harm, and history will look back on this craze with horror.

Prominent medical associations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics advocate for children undergoing therapies for gender dysphoria, such as puberty blockers. In his decision, Hinkle stated that “not a single reputable medical association” has categorically rejected the appropriate use of hormone treatment and puberty blockers.

Hinkle wrote in his order that the state could have limited or regulated care without outright prohibiting it if they had really thought that gender dysphoria was being improperly treated in Florida, “despite the absence of complaints and despite the state’s inability, even now, to find a single adversely affected Florida patient.”

The director of the Southern Legal Counsel’s transgender rights campaign and one of the case’s attorneys, Simone Chriss, stated that Hinkle’s decision “restores some balance in terms of, like, respect and dignity and decency in a state that has never been more in need of those things than right now.”

According to Chriss, the decision puts patients, their families, and their doctors back in control of transgender medical treatment, just as it did in Florida a few years ago.

The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals permitted the implementation of a comparable Alabama law prohibiting medical care for transgender children. Chriss countered that the Florida case is distinct from the Alabama case since the Alabama case did not contend that the statutes were motivated by anti-transgender prejudice.

The decision means Jane Doe, one of the anonymous plaintiffs defending her transgender daughter Susan Doe, won’t have to watch her suffer needlessly, she said in a statement.

In a statement, Doe said, “One of the hardest things we’ve gone through as parents has been seeing Susan’s fear about this ban.” “All we’ve wanted is to help her stay the content, self-assured child she is now by taking away that fear.”

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