Florida Parents Announce Lawsuit Challenging State Ban on Essential Medical Care for Transgender Children

by Aryn Fields

A new rule banning well-established, effective medical treatments for transgender youth with gender dysphoria takes effect in Florida today.

As healthcare providers and researchers express alarm about the ban’s disregard for science and medicine, a group of Florida parents committed to protecting the health and wellbeing of their children, and who are deeply concerned about the ban’s impact, are preparing to challenge the rule in federal court.

“We know how essential it is for our daughter to get the medical care she needs, and this ban terrifies us,” said Jane Doe, mother of 11-year-old Susan Doe. “We have worked with our family doctors since our daughter was young to understand what she is experiencing and to carefully decide on the right path for her, which is to live as the girl she is. This ban bars us from getting her the treatment she needs when she hits puberty. Our daughter is a happy, confident child but denying her access to the medical care recommended by her doctors would completely disrupt her life. I’m devastated by what this will mean for her physical and mental health.”

The Does are a military family who moved to Florida when John Doe was stationed there as a Senior Officer in the U.S. Navy. That leaves the family in an extremely difficult position as moving out of state to seek the care that their daughter, Susan Doe, needs is not an option.

“We have no choice but to stay here and fight for our daughter,” said Jane Doe. “The military doctors have been nothing but supportive of our family, and our military insurance covers my daughter’s recommended care. But because of where we live, our family will now be treated differently than other military families who are doing the same job to serve our country in states without discriminatory bans like this one.”

“The cruel and unnecessary actions taken by the Florida Boards of Medicine harm transgender children in Florida and strip parents like myself of our right to ensure our children receive appropriate, evidence-based medical care,” said a second Florida mother who is joining the lawsuit on behalf of herself and her fourteen-year-old son. “My son was finally getting to a place where he felt hopeful, where being prescribed testosterone was on the horizon and he could see a future for himself in his own body, but that has been ripped away by this discriminatory rule. I am so worried about the impact that lack of access to medical treatment will have on my child. It is every parents’ worst nightmare to have to worry about the unthinkable.”

The policy taking effect today denies access to safe, effective and well-established treatments for youth who have received a diagnosis of gender dysphoria but who have not yet begun puberty delaying medication or hormone treatments. The ban was enacted at the direction of the Governor, Surgeon General Ladapo, and the Department of Health by way of a vote from the Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine. The ban and the process that led to it have been widely criticized by many respected physicians, medical associations and researchers, including over 300 health care providers in Florida who have experience treating youth with gender dysphoria. It contradicts guidelines established through years of clinical research and recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

“This policy came about through a political process with a predetermined conclusion, and it stands in direct contrast to the overwhelming weight of the evidence and science,” said Simone Chriss, Director of Transgender Rights Initiative, Southern Legal Counsel. “There is an unbelievable degree of hypocrisy when a state that holds itself out as being deeply concerned with protecting ‘parents’ rights’ strips parents of their right to ensure their children receive appropriate medical care. I have worked with families and their healthcare providers in Florida for many years. They work tirelessly every day to ensure the best health outcomes for their kids and patients, and they are worried sick about the devastating impacts that this ban will have.”

The parent plaintiffs and their children are represented by Southern Legal Counsel, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Human Rights Campaign. They are preparing to file a lawsuit challenging the ban in federal court.

“The Florida Boards of Medicine chose to ignore the evidence and science in front of them and instead put families in the unthinkable position of not being able to provide essential healthcare for their kids,” said Jennifer Levi, Senior Director of Transgender and Queer Rights, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders.

“Parents, not the government, should make healthcare decisions for their children,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “This policy crosses a dangerous line and should concern anyone who cares about family privacy or the ability of doctors to do their jobs without undue government interference.”

“It’s alarming to see such a concerted, top-down effort to target a small and vulnerable population,” said Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign Legal Director. “The Florida Surgeon General, Department of Health and Boards of Medicine should be focused on the real and serious public health issues Florida faces, not on putting transgender kids and their families in harm’s way.”

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