Florida Board of Medicine panel agrees to limit gender-affirming treatment for teens

ORLANDO, Fla. – A Florida Board of Medicine panel on Friday signed off on a proposed rule that would restrict doctors from providing gender-affirming treatment to children and adolescents.

The full council will vote on the proposal on November 4.

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The rule, pushed by Gov. DeSantis’ administration, would prohibit doctors from prescribing puberty-blocking, hormone and hormone “antagonist” treatments for anyone under the age of 18.

During the meeting in Orlando, board members heard presentations and asked questions from several medical experts. There have also been public comments from people on both sides of the hot button issue.

“It’s a lifelong change for the kids,” Blaise Trettis said. “I don’t think they are emotionally or psychologically capable of making this lifelong decision.”

Amy Rachel is a transgender woman and attended the meeting to oppose any ban on the treatment.

“It’s just wrong. People’s lives are at stake here,” Rachel said. “Some are deliberately spreading misinformation about the transgender community and the types of treatment that are available and provided.”

The Florida Board of Medicine held a workshop Friday to discuss and create rules regarding state guidelines recommending against treatment for gender dysphoria for children and adolescents.

In August, a 120-day rulemaking process began under state guidelines.

The move by Florida health officials has been controversial because it rejects research and standards already endorsed by groups such as the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Endocrine Society.

Florida Department of Health guidelines state that treatment for gender dysphoria can have long-term, irreversible effects on children. The FDOH defined gender dysphoria as “a strong, persistent cross-gender identification associated with anxiety, depression, irritability, and often a desire to live as a gender different from the gender associated with the gender assigned at birth.”

However, the American Psychiatric Association says there are no studies showing that anxiety, depression and other disorders cause gender dysphoria. The APA says that symptoms associated with anxiety or depression usually subside or disappear when the patient is in a supportive environment.

The Office of Population Affairs (OASH) previously issued a report declaring gender dysphoria treatment — also called gender-affirming care — “supportive” and “essential” for transgender children and adolescents.

However, the FDOH issued a fact-check on OASH’s claims earlier this year, criticizing the research used and citing studies on the potential health consequences of such treatment.

The FDOH said there are no high-quality, long-term studies on the effects of gender dysphoria treatment, arguing that most children who identify as transgender lose it after puberty.

A study of 720 patients by researchers in the Netherlands showed that 98% of teens who started puberty blockers continued with gender-affirming care even as they aged. The study was published just this month in the Lancet journal.

Other studies that OASH used in its report said that because time data and samples are limited, it is difficult to properly estimate the long-term effects of gender dysphoria treatment on children.

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