US Judge Overturns Florida’s Ban on Gender-Affirming Healthcare

A federal judge has declared parts of Florida’s ban on puberty blockers, hormone therapy for transgender children, and restrictions on gender-affirming healthcare for adults unconstitutional, ordering the state not to enforce these provisions. The law, signed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in 2023, prohibited individuals under 18 from receiving such treatments for gender dysphoria, although it allowed those already receiving care before May 17, 2023, to continue under new restrictions.

US District Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee ruled that these elements violated the US Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. He emphasized that the Florida legislators involved “plainly acted from old-fashioned discriminatory animus” and affirmed that “gender identity is real,” expressing confidence that discrimination against transgender individuals will diminish over time.

Governor DeSantis’ spokesperson, Julia Friedland, indicated that the state would appeal the ruling, criticizing gender-affirming healthcare as part of “radical, new age ‘gender ideology'” and arguing that such procedures cause “permanent, life-altering damage to children.”

Judge Hinkle noted that the banned therapies are recognized as standard care for treating gender dysphoria by numerous medical associations and the US Department of Health. Testimonies from parents of transgender children highlighted that gender-affirming healthcare was crucial for their children’s well-being. A transgender man testified that the new restrictions had caused significant distress, anxiety, and depression when his hormone therapy was interrupted.

The judge ruled that the law discriminated based on sex because it allowed puberty blockers or hormone therapy for non-transgender individuals. He criticized the law as an exercise in politics rather than a genuine healthcare regulation, underscoring that “the great weight of medical authority supports these treatments.”

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