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A judge has blocked a Florida ban on gender affirming care for kids

Craig Moore
WFSU Public Media

A Tallahassee-based federal judge has temporarily blocked a ban on gender affirming care for kids. LGBTQ+ advocates are celebrating the decision.

Simone Chriss, Director of the Southern Legal Counsel’s Transgender Rights Initiative calls the ruling a “strong affirmation of trans folks, of their experiences and of the healthcare they need to survive.”

The injunction is narrowly focused on three kids whose parents are involved in the lawsuit, but since the ruling finds the barriers to care are likely unconstitutional, Chriss says that means the ban is not expected to be enforced as the case moves forward and that gender affirming care should be accessible for kids who need it.

In a statement, Jane Doe, who is challenging the ban on behalf of herself and her daughter Susan Doe, said her “entire family is breathing a huge sigh of relief.”

“My husband and I have been heartbroken and worried sick about not being able to care for our daughter in the way we know she needs. I’m sure most any parent can imagine the sense of powerlessness that comes from being unable to do something as basic as get medical care for your child,” Doe continued.

The plaintiffs in the case are using pseudonyms to protect the identities of their children.

The injunction applies to bans on care passed by the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as to a law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month that codified the boards’ bans.

In his strongly-worded ruling U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle finds the plaintiffs are likely to prevail and says "The elephant in the room should be noted at the outset. Gender identity is real."

"This is a politically fraught area. There has long been, and still is, substantial bigotry directed at transgender individuals. Common experience confirms this, as does a Florida legislator’s remarkable reference to transgender witnesses at a committee hearing as 'mutants' and 'demons.' And even when not based on bigotry, there are those who incorrectly but sincerely believe that gender identity is not real but instead just a choice," Hinkle says.

Hinkle is referring to a statement made by Rep. Webster Barnaby (R-Deltona) during an April committee meeting.

Hinkle also calls the bans an "exercise in politics, not good medicine."

In an emailed response to the ruling, Gov. DeSantis’ press secretary, Jeremy Redfern, wrote the injunction “is extremely limited in scope. In this case, a single judge has decided that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones should be made available to three young children.”

“We obviously disagree with the judge's ruling. We will continue fighting against the rogue elements in the medical establishment that push ideology over evidence and protect against mutilating our kids,” Redfern continued.

The case is expected to move forward quickly. Chriss says Hinkle has indicated he expects to issue a ruling at the same time that he rules in a separate case that blocks Medicaid coverage of gender affirming care for both kids and adults.

While an appeal on the injunction is expected, that appeal would go before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court where an injunction has been allowed to continue against a similar ban passed in Alabama as a lawsuit in that case moves forward.

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