The Florida Board of Medicine has agreed to take a petition approved by Gov. Ron DeSantis and filed by the Florida Department of Health that would set rules for transgender youths seeking treatment.
A protest in Dania Beach broke out in response to the petition, Friday afternoon, saying the new rule would take away healthcare for transgender youths and life-saving treatments.
“A fight for human rights,” chanted protesters.
Speaking at the event, Caleb, who began his journey into gender reassignment at age 11, said, “The medical treatment that I received as a minor was integral for helping me to come out of my depression and becoming the happy and healthy person that I am today.”
The petition asks to establish a standard of care by banning underage patients from undergoing gender-reassignment surgery and taking hormone replacement therapy and other puberty-blocking medications.
“I’m going to vote that we go into rule making, because I think this is very, very important,” said board member Dr. Patrick Hunter.
This appeal would also require older patients to wait 24 hours before they seek treatment and sign a consent form.
Shortly after the board made the ruling, an angry demonstrator was escorted out of the building after expressing opposition to their decision.
“You say you want to protect kids? You protect kids. You do not put them in the streets,” the demonstrator said.
Before she left, the woman said this is an issue that hits close to home for her.
“You’re supposed to be here to protect [children], and instead, you are having kids commit suicide. I’m a mom, I’m a parent, I’m a provider. You do not do this to kids,” she said as several people in the audience applauded.
Florida State Rep. Anna Eskamani also expressed disapproval of the board’s decision.
“This board of medical professionals who were appointed by the governor approved a rule-making process that essentially is the precursor of ending gender affirming care for our children alongside restricting gender affirming care for adults,” she said.
Echoing the dissenters’ remarks was Misty Alicea, the director of transgender services for the LGBTQ nonprofit SunServe.
“As human beings, for us to be happy, we need hope, and you’re telling these young children that they can’t transition?” she said. “I’m not saying give them the estrogen at a young age. I’m not saying give them the testosterone at a young age. I’m saying pause their puberty.”
Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Florida’s surgeon general, said, “There’s so much variability around the nation and in Florida in terms of how these procedures are done, I think it’s — you know, I’m grateful that the governor has decided that it’s important to take a stand here, and I completely back him.”
However, experts in transgender children said banning doctors from practicing medicine how they see fit for transgender youth is discriminatory and will face legal challenges.
At the protest, Dr. Michael Haller, Chief of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of Florida, said, “The Department of Health’s petition for rule making the proposed prohibition of puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery for gender dysphoric patients is in direct conflict with guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society, The American Psychological Association and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.”
“I’m going to vote to go into rule making just to learn more and to hear from everybody,” said Hunter.
The actions that took place in the meeting were met with criticism from the LGBTQ+ community, especially from trans people.
Protesters outside the building believe the government should stay out of these “delicate issues.”
“These are decisions made by doctors, by families and by individuals, and the government needs to stay out of these decisions. They don’t belong here,” said Florida State Rep. Robin Bartleman.
This petition also faced backlash from the U.S. Board of Medicine. They said this standard of care is targeted at transgender youths and was deemed discriminatory and illegal by the board.
At Friday’s meeting, the board also discussed different age groups and standards of care practices. More meetings are expected in the future as they define guidelines for the different groups.