Fla. medical board votes to review rules on transgender treatments for children

Florida Surgeon General urged board to adopt suggested state guidelines

DANIA BEACH, Fla. – Emotions boiled over as deputies had to swarm a conference room where the Florida Board of Medicine was meeting to discuss a request by Florida’s State Surgeon General to create rules prohibiting medical professionals from providing treatments for transgender youth.

The board voted Friday to start the process of rule-making. No rules have been changed, but they will start the process of gathering data and speaking with experts to find a standard of care they agree with.

FDOH said treatments such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy can have adverse health repercussions, which include cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, infertility, increased risk of cancer, and thrombosis.

The department’s guidelines are as follows:

  • Social gender transition should not be a treatment option for children or adolescents
  • Anyone under 18 years old should not be prescribed puberty blockers or hormone therapy
  • Gender reassignment surgery should not be a treatment option for surgery
  • Children and adolescents should be provided social support by peers and family and seek counseling from a licensed provider

Meanwhile, outside of the Fort Lauderdale Airport Marriott, a crowd gathered who is pushing to protect gender-affirming care, many holding signs. Some of them read: “Give Trans Kids a Happy Future” and “Florida Board of Medicine or Board of Suicide?”

“It is as basic as social transition,” said John Harris Maurer of Equality Florida. “Things like names, haircuts, the clothing that people wear, or things like puberty blockers that are about delaying the onset of puberty so that folks have more time to consider these kinds of decisions.”

Jeanette Jennings said her daughter, Jazz, wouldn’t be alive today without gender-affirming care.

“She knew with her heart and soul that she was a girl. Transgender children are at risk — 40 to 50 percent will attempt suicide. When you say to them, ‘You can’t wear this, you can’t wear that, there (are) no doctors that will treat you,’ they become suicidal.”

Many who spoke to The Florida Board of Medicine are calling this “political theater” brought up out of the blue.

Anthony Verdugo, founder and executive director of the Christian Family Coalition (CFC) Florida disagrees.

“Once they are adults they can do what they want. But minors simply do not have the mental capacity to make these life-altering decisions. Parents cannot allow a child to smoke or drink or drive a car at the age of three.”

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo brought the issue to the forefront in June writing to the Florida Board of Medicine and citing research by the Department of Health.

(See the guidelines from Joseph A. Lapado for the treatment of gender dysphoria for children and adolescents)

Lambda Legal, the Southern Legal Counsel, Florida Health Justice Project, and National Health Law Program issued a statement in advance of the meeting, which said that the State Surgeon General’s proposal is unconstitutional and unlawful.

“The State Surgeon General’s biased and politically-motivated petition, however, runs counter to well-established medical guidelines for the treatment of gender dysphorias, such as those published by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and the Endocrine Society, and the overwhelming medical consensus in the United States and internationally, and would in effect deny essential, medically necessary, and often life-saving care to transgender people, including transgender youth.”

The statement continued:

“Southern Legal Counsel, Florida Health Justice Project, Lambda Legal, and National Health Law Program urge the Florida Board of Medicine to stop playing politics with people’s health care and not to adopt guidelines for a standard of care to treat gender dysphoria that is contrary to the evidence-based and overwhelming consensus that gender-affirming medical care for the treatment of gender dysphoria is safe, effective, and medically necessary.”

About the Authors:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.