After a heated public hearing, Florida's Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine on Friday unanimously confirmed a rule that prohibits doctors from prescribing certain treatments for children with "gender dysphoria."
The two boards originally passed their "Standards of Practice for the Treatment of Gender Dysphoria in Minors" in November, following petitions from the state Department of Health. The standards prohibit doctors from treating a minor's "gender dysphoria" with sex reassignment surgeries and hormone therapies. The Board of Osteopathic Medicine added an exception to its rule, allowing nonsurgical treatments on minors performed under "clinical trials."
While numerous state legislatures are considering protections against transgender treatments for children, Florida is the first state to pass these protections through an administrative process. Gov. Ron DeSantis's (R.) Health Department requested last summer that the two medical boards set standards for transgender treatment.
In Friday's hearing, a representative from the department petitioned the Osteopathic Medicine Board to remove the exception, arguing that one board allowing the exception while the other did not would only create confusion.
"The department is concerned the exception undermines the purpose of this rule," John Wilson, general counsel for the Department of Health, said.
The board unanimously voted to remove the exception and confirm the standards as outlined by the Board of Medicine, to the dismay of a large crowd of LGBTQ activists present at the hearing.
Attendees shouted expletives while waving transgender flags and signs in protest. Hecklers interrupted board members' defense of the standards, shouting, "Shame!" The board heard two hours of public comments, mainly from pro-transgender advocates opposing the rule. One transgender man gave himself a hormone injection in front of the board during his testimony. Five law enforcement officers stood in between attendees and board members when the meeting adjourned.
Simone Chriss, the director of Southern Legal Counsel's Transgender Rights Initiative, spoke in opposition to the new standards, saying "the overwhelming weight of evidence and science" shows that "access to treatment for gender dysphoria is safe, effective, and medically necessary."
"That's not true. The literature is not clear," board member Dr. Hector Vila replied, noting the "hundreds of studies," doctor interviews, and testimonies the boards reviewed when crafting these standards. "There's not adequate evidence to support the use of the therapies, the limited therapies that we've said should not be used because of the irreversible harm."