We Fixed It For You: Human Rights Campaign Corrects Disinformation in Florida Department of Health Memo on Gender Affirming Care

by Meghan Olson

WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — released a corrected version of recent guidance issued by the Florida Department of Health on gender-affirming care. HRC took a red pen to the guidance, which was rife with inaccuracies and dangerous disinformation, and created a redlined, corrected version of the document to show the falsehoods included in the Department of Health’s original guidance.

With its memo, the state of Florida issued guidance that was notably inaccurate and dangerous. It is the responsibility of governments to provide truthful information to create a more informed population and this memo is nothing more than anti-transgender propaganda. So, we fixed it for them. We call on governments to provide truthful information based on science and data as opposed to false statements based on prejudice and political agendas. Gov. DeSantis has repeatedly spread lies about and attacked LGBTQ+ youth and families in an effort to fearmonger and further polarize Floridians. Now is the time for everyone–from business to community leaders to elected officials–to speak up and take action against these lies and attacks. Lives are on the line.”

Joni Madison, Human Rights Campaign Interim President

In addition to the visual correction, HRC also released a point-by-point rebuttal that cites correct information and research about gender-affirming care.

In its guidelines, the Florida Department of Health shared no fewer than four lies about gender-affirming care and transgender youth. Topline points are below, with additional data points in the fact sheet itself.

LIE #1: Detransition rates among youth are high and it is dangerous to allow youth access to gender-affirming care.

  • REALITY: Numerous published studies from more recent years have noted that detransition is rare and gender-affirming care is not dangerous.

LIE #2: There is no evidence to support the positive impact of gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth.

  • REALITY: There is, in fact, overwhelming evidence to support the positive mental health impacts of gender-affirming medical care for trans youth - including in some of the very studies they cite.

LIE #3: Providing gender-affirming care for transgender youth means harmful, irreversible surgeries and medical therapies, which carry short- and long-term health risks.

  • REALITY: Gender-affirming medical care for trans youth and adolescents under 18 is largely concentrated to social transition – meaning allowing a person to change individual’s name, pronouns, and gender expression – gender-affirming hormones and puberty blockers, many of which have been safely used with cisgender youth for decades, and which have proven safe and effective among transgender youth.

LIE #4: A study claimed that “transitioning socially is not beneficial for children with gender dysphoria.”

  • REALITY: Numerous studies have found that, after social transition, transgender youth report similar mental health levels to the general youth population, eliminating mental health disparities typically seen. When their identity is affirmed by people around them, transgender youth report lower rates of depression and suicidality. In fact, in the single study the DoH uses to recommend against social transition–which for many kids is something as simple as changing their hair or pronouns–the study authors go on to immediately state “supporting this step may still be considered in individual cases and together with the whole family.”

Last month, HRC uplifted the story of Maya, an outgoing 11-year-old who loves spending time with her family. Gender-affirming care allows her to be the person she’s always been — but many states, now including Florida, are trying to prevent Maya and other trans kids from accessing these medically necessary, life-saving resources. We’ve also shared the story of Sgt. David Fuller, after he bravely testified before Alabama lawmakers as they tried to ban the gender-affirming health care that saved his daughter’s life. Age-appropriate, best-practice gender-affirming health care improves health outcomes for transgender youth and adolescents.

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 an FAQ setting the record straight.

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