Florida Medical Boards Confirm, Clarify Ban on Gender Transition Procedures on Minors
Tempers grew heated in the Sunshine State on Friday afternoon, as well-organized pro-trans activists unsuccessfully tried to derail the Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine from confirming standards of care prohibiting licensed medical professionals from inflicting irreversible harm on minors through gender transition procedures. Both boards unanimously re-approved standards of care first approved in November with edits for consistency; it’s unclear when the standards of care will officially take effect.
The Florida Medical Boards first approved the ban on “sex reassignment surgeries, or any other surgical procedures, that alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics,” as well as “puberty blocking, hormone, and hormone antagonist therapies” on November 4 by an 11-2 vote.
However, at the November meeting, the Board of Osteopathic Medicine also permitted a major exception for clinical trials that the Board of Medicine did not recognize. Between the two meetings, Governor Ron DeSantis (R) appointed three new members to the seven-member Board of Osteopathic Medicine.
At the February meeting, the Board of Osteopathic Medicine unanimously eliminated the exception to align with the Board of Medicine at the request of the Florida Department of Health. “The department is concerned the exception undermines the purpose of this rule,” said John Wilson, Department of Health general counsel. He said the exception from only one board could cause confusion in applying the rule.
Pro-transgender activists, notified ahead of time by friendly media, dominated the public comment portion of the four-hour meeting. One activist even injected herself with cross-sex hormones in front of the Boards. Some members of the audience shouted expletives at the meeting.
Pro-trans activists had previously demonstrated hostility towards the Boards’ decision at the November 4 meeting and at another meeting on October 28, during which the boards heard public testimony for five hours. Their antics began by staging a “die-in” at the October hearing, and they escalated to violent threats by November.
Evidently anticipating further problems at the February meeting, The Florida Department of Law Enforcement held a security meeting with the medical boards on the preceding Tuesday and appointed one member as a liaison for passing along “any type of communication perceived to be threatening in any way.” After the Friday vote, law enforcement officers positioned themselves in front of the room.
U.S. Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Fla.) criticized the decision by the Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine: “Without any actual debate the FL Board of Medicine did the bidding of DeSantis and have pursued what will be a complete ban of gender affirming care for trans youth.”
Florida’s Voice News reported that “the boards heard hours of public comment” on Friday, besides their previous meetings. Florida Board of Medicine board member Dr. Hector Vila, M.D. said, “This board has reviewed hundreds of studies, we talk to doctors, we’ve received testimony from both sides of this issue, and the overwhelming data does not support” gender transition procedures for minors.
Pro-transgender news outlets have reported that “the ban will run counter to recommendations from major medical organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the Endocrine Society.”
While recognizing that many national medical groups recommend gender transition procedures for minors — as many pro-transgender activists noted in the hearing — the Florida Department of Health argued in June 2022 that “the scientific evidence supporting these complex medical interventions is extraordinarily weak.” They suggested that the professional organizations’ standards “appear to follow a preferred political ideology instead of the highest level of generally accepted medical science.”
In April 2022, the Florida Department of Health “recommended against certain pharmaceutical, non-pharmaceutical, and surgical treatments for gender dysphoria … based on a lack of conclusive evidence and the high risk for long-term, irreversible harms from these treatments,” the department told the Florida Board of Medicine in June.
The department then “conducted a full review” and “ultimately concluded that ‘Available medical literature provides insufficient evidence that sex reassignment through medical interventions is a safe and effective treatment for gender dysphoria.’” Florida’s “medical boards conducted hearings, reviewed expert testimony on both sides, and issued professional judgment on clinical standards,” wrote Manhattan Institute fellows Leor Sapir and John Ketcham.
A recent analysis by Do No Harm found that “the United States is the most permissive country when it comes to the legal and medical gender transition of children,” although restrictions vary from state to state. They noted that many European countries that affirm transgender ideology are rolling back gender transition procedures for children based on “the growing body of evidence” against them.
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.