Groups sue to stop Florida's gender-affirming care ban for kids

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Parents of four children have filed a federal lawsuit against Florida’s two medical boards over recently-enacted rules that ban gender-affirming care for minors.

The Southern Legal Counsel, Human Rights Campaign Foundation and others filed the lawsuit Thursday in Tallahassee federal court. It seeks to block the state from implementing the ban that was approved by the Florida Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine late last year.

The rules, known as care standards for doctors, took effect last week and prohibit trans minors from receiving gender-affirming care, including hormone therapy or surgery.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association support gender-affirming care for adults and adolescents. But medical experts said gender-affirming care for children rarely, if ever, includes surgery. Instead, doctors are more likely to recommend counseling, social transitioning and hormone replacement therapy.

“The transgender medical bans also violate the guarantees of equal protection by banning essential medical treatments needed by the adolescent Plaintiffs because they are transgender,” the lawsuit states. The suit doesn’t not identify the plaintiffs out of safety concerns.

The two medical boards approved the new standards for gender dysphoria treatment in November at the request of Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, who said over the summer that the risks associated with the surgeries and prescription treatment for kids is largely untested and that the risks outweigh medical benefits.

Florida Department of Health Spokesperson Nikki Whiting said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of the groups suing the state, said the bans contradict guidelines supported by medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

“The policy unlawfully strips parents of the right to make informed decisions about their children’s medical treatment and violates the equal protection rights of transgender youth by denying them medically necessary, doctor-recommended healthcare to treat their gender dysphoria,” the group said in a press release.

The plaintiffs plan to file a motion seeking a preliminary injunction that would halt the case until it goes through trial.

The state’s bans on transgender treatments for children followed separate rulemaking by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration in August that banned the state’s Medicaid program from covering surgeries and hormone blockers.