Florida Senate approves ban on transgender treatments for kids

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Yarborough’s bill was approved on party lines. The measure is now headed to the House, where the similar HB 1421 is awaiting consideration on the chamber floor. There are differences between the two bills, but both measures would also grant state courts with temporary emergency jurisdiction in child custody cases where a child in Florida is receiving “or being threatened” with taking prescription hormone blockers or undergoing surgeries under the care of a parent in another state.

Senate Democrats also brought up testimony from people who spoke against the bill during committee meetings, saying that the bill and last year’s agency rulemaking have led some transgender children to consider suicide. Democratic state Sen. Shevrin Jones, who is the first Black openly gay legislator in state history, said transgender children think the Legislature has rejected who they are.

“They’re committing suicide because of how they’re treated,” Jones said. “Do we want to be that type of body where we’re continuing on pushing, pushing, pushing these young people who may look different and there may not be like your child?”

Health advocacy groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association support gender-affirming care for adults and kids. Medical experts also 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.

Yarborough’s bill expands on similar policies enacted through new health care regulations that were pushed by DeSantis last year. In August, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which DeSantis oversees, banned the state’s Medicaid program from covering gender-affirming surgeries and hormone therapy treatments after the agency published a report that concluded there was not enough evidence to show that the risks outweigh the benefits.

Using that AHCA report, state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, who is one of DeSantis’ top health advisers, subsequently convinced the state’s two medical boards to adopt rules known as care standards that barred all doctors from treating minors with the surgeries and prescription treatments in November.

The bans that were established by the medical boards and AHCA are each facing legal challenges filed by a coalition of transgender rights groups in Tallahassee federal court. Both court cases were ongoing as of Tuesday, federal court records show.

Florida is one of 13 states in the U.S. that have enacted bans on transgender care. Another 19 states are considering similar measures, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

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( With inputs from : )

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