Federal Judge Strikes Down Florida Law Banning Puberty Blockers, Hormone Treatments for Children

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

A federal judge on Tuesday overturned parts of Florida’s law restricting the use of “gender-affirming care” on children. The judge declared multiple statutes related to puberty blockers, hormone treatments, and surgeries to be unconstitutional.

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The law was aimed at preventing medical facilities from prescribing irreversible “gender-affirming” treatments to young children. Several studies have shown these treatments to be not only ineffective but harmful to minors suffering from gender dysphoria. Nevertheless, the judge struck down the measure.

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down parts of Florida’s restrictions on transition-related medical care for transgender minors and adults, declaring several statutes that ban such care unconstitutional.

The law, championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, made Florida among the most restrictive states for transgender care in the nation.  

“Transgender opponents are of course free to hold their beliefs,” Judge Robert L. Hinkle of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Tallahassee Division, wrote in his opinion. “But they are not free to discriminate against transgender individuals just for being transgender. In time, discrimination against transgender individuals will diminish, just as racism and misogyny have diminished. To paraphrase a civil-rights advocate from an earlier time, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Hinkle added, “The State of Florida can regulate as needed but cannot flatly deny transgender individuals safe and effective medical treatment — treatment with medications routinely provided to others with the state’s full approval so long as the purpose is not to support the patient’s transgender identity.”

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The judge asserted that “In time, discrimination against transgender individuals will diminish, just as racism and misogyny have diminished.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed the ruling in a statement, referring to European nations that abandoned the “gender-affirming” model after numerous studies highlighted its flaws.

“Through their elected representatives, the people of Florida acted to protect children in this state, and the Court was wrong to override their wishes,” the statement said. “As we’ve seen here in Florida, the United Kingdom, and across Europe, there is no quality evidence to support the chemical and physical mutilation of children. These procedures do permanent, life-altering damage to children, and history will look back on this fad in horror.”

During the trial, Florida’s attorneys reportedly acknowledged that the state is unable to prohibit someone from pursuing a transgender identity, but it can regulate medical care.

Back in June 2023, the same judge placed a temporary injunction on the law, arguing that “Gender identity is real” and that “There has long been, and still is, substantial bigotry directed at transgender individuals.”

This is, as noted above, the elephant in the room. Where there is bigotry, there are usually—one hopes, always—opponents of bigotry. It is hardly surprising that doctors who understand that transgender identity can be real, not made up—doctors who are willing to provide supportive medical care—oppose anti-transgender bigotry.

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Julia Friedland, deputy press secretary for Gov. DeSantis, said in a statement that the court “was wrong to override” the legislature elected by residents to “protect children.”

The Sunshine State is one of 25 states that has passed legislation banning “gender-affirming care” for minors. Other states have also faced legal challenges to these laws.

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