HRC and Equality Florida Respond to Florida Department of Health Spreading Dangerous Disinformation about Gender Affirming Care & Trans Youth

by Laurel Powell

Today, the Florida Department of Health released a statement, which it sent to licensed health and human services providers in the state of Florida, attacking the established standards of age-appropriate, medically-necessary, and often life-saving care for transgender youth. In response, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) condemned it as Gov. Ron DeSantis’s latest move to attack transgender and non-binary children and adolescents, only weeks after signing his widely-derided “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill into law.

We already knew that Governor DeSantis thinks he knows better than teachers, school administrators, school librarians, parents, math textbooks, and young people themselves about what should be taught - or said - in school. Now his administration thinks they know better than medical experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, about what medical care is appropriate for transgender children. It’s not surprising that Governor DeSantis is willing to deny the evidence to advance baseless attacks on transgender youth, but it is appalling.

Like Governor Ivey in Alabama and Governor Abbott in Texas, Governor DeSantis is focused on making it as difficult as possible to be a transgender child - this farce of a document dangerously threatens trans youth and their families, invades families’ right to privacy, threatens medical providers complying with best-practice standards of care, and doubles down on the relentless attacks that transgender youth have faced across the country this year. Parents and pediatricians, not politics, should be guiding medical decisions about children.

The fact is that evidence-based, age-appropriate, medically-necessary health care for trans youth - as outlined in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Fact Sheet - is supported by dozens of medical associations, including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and many others. It’s supported by the best available evidence. We will do everything in our power to stand with transgender young people in Florida and their families in this moment - because facts and truth still matter.

Jay Brown, Senior Vice President of Programs, Research, and Training at the Human Rights Campaign

Governor DeSantis is once again putting political propaganda over science and the safety of young people. This guidance demonizes lifesaving, medically necessary care, and asserts that politicians know better than parents about caring for their children. Governor DeSantis’ runaway agenda of banning books, muzzling teachers, censoring history, and pushing government control makes the state less safe for LGBTQ families, especially transgender children.

Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida

In Texas, a non-binding legal opinion from that state’s attorney general was swiftly followed by instructions from the governor that resulted in families being investigated for supporting their transgender children in receiving age-appropriate, medically necessary care. This caused a tidal wave of resistance from parents, families, and business leaders, eventually leading to a lawsuit from the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and others. Alabama recently passed the first ever law to impose felony criminal penalties on medical professionals who offer evidence-based, age-appropriate, gender-affirming treatment to youth, which has also spurred lawsuits. Last year, the Arkansas legislature overrode the governor’s veto to enact a law that bans gender affirming care. That law is currently not in effect as a result of litigation.

For more information on how to report on issues pertaining to transgender people, please visit HRC’s Brief Guide to Getting Transgender Coverage Right. For more information on separating facts from disinformation when it comes to gender-affirming care, HRC has provided a fact sheet setting the record straight.

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