Florida’s ban on gender-affirming care for youth now in effect

Republican legislators have filed bills that would ensure the ban becomes state law.
The transgender pride flag.
The transgender pride flag. [ TAILYR IRVINE | Times ]
Published March 6|Updated March 16

Florida’s ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth took effect Thursday, according to a state notice.

But Republican legislators have filed bills that would go further — ensuring the ban becomes law.

Other Republican-controlled Legislatures, including in Alabama and Arkansas, have previously passed restrictions on such care.

The new Board of Medicine rule bars doctors from prescribing puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgeries to treat new patients younger than 18 for gender dysphoria, the discomfort one feels with the sex assigned at birth.

The restrictions on puberty blockers and hormones won’t apply to youth already being prescribed those medications prior to Thursday. Previous patients will be grandfathered in and allowed to continue with treatment.

The rule is at odds with existing treatment standards that have been endorsed by major medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Endocrine Society.

Related: How Florida clinics are treating transgender youth ahead of ban

Doctors who violate the rule risk disciplinary action from the medical board, which can issue fines and revoke licenses.

Gainesville nonprofit law firm Southern Legal Counsel plans to file a federal lawsuit challenging the restrictions, Simone Chriss, director of the firm’s Transgender Rights Initiative, previously said.

The Board of Osteopathic Medicine’s rule — which mirrors the Board of Medicine’s — will take effect on March 28, state records show. New patients under the age of 18 will be able to start care with osteopathic physicians until the rule is in place.

Medical doctors vastly outnumber osteopathic physicians in Florida.

Related: Florida to ban care for transgender youth — even in clinical trials

The medical boards began the rule-making process last August after the department urged them to do so. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is widely expected to seek the Republican nomination for president in 2024, has focused on restricting treatment for transgender people.