Florida Senate set to block treatment for trans youths

The Florida Senate on Monday teed up a measure that would make it a crime for doctors to use gender-affirming treatment such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgery for transgender minors. 

The proposal, which includes an exemption for children currently receiving puberty blockers or hormone therapy to treat gender dysphoria, mirrors rules adopted by the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine that recently went into effect. 

The Senate bill (SB 254) also would require the medical boards to create rules to establish standards of care for transgender children currently receiving puberty blockers or hormone therapy, potentially opening the door for the boards to do away with the exemption. Senate bill sponsor Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville, said his proposal would allow the boards to "contemplate time periods and what the best method of practice will be for minors to discontinue use of those treatments if that’s what the boards decide." 

A similar House bill (HB 1421) would require children currently receiving gender-affirming care to discontinue it by Dec. 31. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration last summer asked the medical boards to ban gender-affirming care for youths, arguing that the treatment is "experimental." But proponents of the treatment maintain it is medically necessary, safe, and effective. 

Four families recently filed a federal lawsuit challenging the medical boards’ rules, arguing that the regulations intrude on "parents’ fundamental right to direct the upbringing of their adolescent children." 

The full Senate could vote on its bill Tuesday. The gender-affirming care measures are among a number of proposals targeting transgender children and adults under consideration in the 60-day legislative session, which is slated to end May 5.