Human Rights Campaign: Florida Boards of Medicine Relentless in Pursuing Anti-Scientific, Harmful, Discriminatory Rule to Deny Care to Transgender Youth

by Delphine Luneau

Politicized Process Aims to Prevent Medical Providers, Parents and Young People from Making Decisions on Best Practice, Medically Necessary Treatments that Save Lives

Acting at the behest of the administration of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine are holding a public hearing today on the politically motivated and discriminatory proposed rule change that would deny age-appropriate gender-affirming care to Florida's transgender youth.

The boards voted in November to approve language for a statewide rule that will create a freeze frame for transgender youth already accessing gender-affirming medical care and effectively prohibit new care for transgender youth under the age of 18, making Florida the first U.S. state to limit and partially ban such treatment through an administrative process. Today’s public hearing paves the way for the rule to potentially go into effect as soon as mid-March.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — has previously exposed the scientifically inadequate and dishonest process that has led to the consideration of this rule. The rule was based on guidance from the Florida Department of Health that was full of inaccurate and misleading reporting, and drew faulty conclusions from a biased read of the scientific literature.

Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign Legal Director, released the following statement:

“Despite clear medical evidence pointing in the opposite direction, the Florida Boards of Medicine remain obsessed with placing politics over people, in the process taking away important decisions about transition care for youth that should be up to Florida families and their medical providers. Despite a mountain of evidence and testimony, Florida officials give every impression that they are moving toward a pre-ordained result, ignoring the very real harms that this rule would impose on a vulnerable population.”

Nikole Parker, Director of Transgender Equality for Equality Florida released the following statement:

“With young lives on the line, another state agency is being weaponized by Ron DeSantis, choosing politics over its duty to protect Floridians. This proposed rule puts transgender youth at higher risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidality. Those are the facts purposely ignored by Boards of Medicine and Osteopathy stacked with DeSantis political appointees who have put their toxic politics over people’s health and wellbeing. Transgender Floridians exist. We are part of this community. Gender-affirming care is lifesaving care – and it is care that is supported by every major medical organization, an overwhelming majority of medical providers, and should be left to young people, their families, and their doctors. Not politicians. Shame on the Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathy for trading the suffering of transgender youth and their parents for cheap political points.”

Florida’s Board of Medicine is the 15-member medical board responsible for licensing Florida doctors; setting rules for physicians, and disciplining them for infractions such as health care fraud or false advertising. The Board of Osteopathic Medicine is a 7-member board that licenses osteopathic physicians. State law says the boards can establish standards of care for medical practices via a rule-making process and can discipline doctors for violating its rules. Among other penalties, the boards have the power to revoke medical licenses or impose fines. The boards are part of the Department of Health. DeSantis appoints board members, who are confirmed for four-year terms.

After the preliminary report was published in April 2022, HRC responded with a corrected version that debunked the lies and misinterpretations that abounded in the two-page document. HRC’s response noted that the preliminary report drew inaccurate conclusions from cited research, used obsolete terminology, took data out of context and cherry-picked misleading data. To learn more about gender affirming care, see HRC’s fact sheet and video.

In an opinion piece published by The Tampa Bay Times in April, more than 300 health care professionals decried the Florida Department of Health’s false claims surrounding gender-affirming care. The piece states that the Department’s memo on these treatments “does not allow for personalized patient and family-centered care, and would, if followed, lead to higher rates of youth depression and suicidality.” When speaking of the Department’s sources, the authors also state that “when citing high-quality studies, they (FDOH) make conclusions that are not supported by the authors of the articles.”

In June 2022, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, bowing to the wishes of the openly discriminatory DeSantis Administration, released proposed rule changes that would — contrary to all medical best practices — deny gender affirming care to Floridians of all ages who rely on Medicaid.

Get the facts about gender-affirming care:

  • Every credible medical organization – representing over 1.3 million doctors in the United States – calls for age-appropriate gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people.
    • “Transition-related” or “gender-affirming” care looks different for every transgender and non-binary person.

    • Parents, their kids, and doctors make decisions together, and no medical interventions with permanent consequences happen until a transgender person is old enough to give truly informed consent.

  • Gender transition is a personal process that can include changing clothes, names, and hairstyles to fit a person’s gender identity.
    • Some people take medication, and some do not; some adults have surgeries, and others do not. How someone transitions is their choice, to be made with their family and their doctor.

    • Therapists, parents and health care providers work together to determine which changes to make at a given time that are in the best interest of the child.

    • In most young children, this care can be entirely social. This means:
      • New name

      • New hairstyle

      • New clothing

      • None of this care is irreversible.

  • Being transgender is not new.
    • Some say it can feel like being transgender is very new – but that’s because the media has been covering it more in recent months and years.

    • But transgender people have always existed and will continue to exist regardless of the bills we pass.

    • And very few transgender people change their mind.

  • ALL gender-affirming care is:
    • Age-appropriate

    • Medically necessary

    • Supported by all major medical organizations

    • Made in consultation with medical and mental health professionals AND parents

  • And in many cases, this care is lifesaving!
    • A recent study from the Trevor Project provides data supporting this — transgender youth with access to gender-affirming hormone therapy have lower rates of depression and are at a lower risk for suicide.

Additional facts on the participation of transgender kids in school sports:

  • A May 2022 article published in the Washington Post features a survey which found that 59 percent of respondents said they opposed or strongly opposed banning transgender girls from participating in K-12 athletics.

  • Further, there is a disconnect between Republican leaders and Republican voters, with 48% of GOP or GOP leaning respondents opposing anti-transgender sports bans. “Recent political science research suggests that policies like these are enacted not because of public attitudes about LGBTQ rights, but because conservative leaders are pushing a policy agenda…Even so, Republicans are practically evenly divided on these issues.”

  • In the last three years, anti-LGBTQ+ groups and politicians have singled out transgender kids to deny them access to gender-affirming medical treatment, prevent them from participating in sports teams consistent with their gender identity, and deny access to bathrooms. 2020 set a record number for anti-transgender bills filed with 79 bills, largely focused on attacking transgender youth; 2021 surpassed that record with 147 such bills filed in 34 states. 2022 is on track to surpass that record yet again. For transgender youth – who are simply trying to navigate their adolescence – to bear the weight of these attacks year after year, this legislation takes a toll. Politicians are culpable for the harms they inflict by continuing to consider bills that target transgender youth.

  • In a December 2020 friend-of-the-court brief challenging an Idaho sports ban, as many as 200 female athletes voiced their support for the inclusion of transgender girls in school sports– some of whom included tennis icon Billie Jean King, World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe, and WNBA player Candace Parker.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Contact Us

To make a general inquiry, please visit our contact page. Members of the media can reach our press office at: (202) 572-8968 or email