Florida medical boards approve ban on puberty blockers, transgender surgeries for minors
'Florida will continue to fight for kids to be kids,' said Florida's surgeon general after the ban was approved
A joint committee of Florida’s two medical boards voted Friday to approve a rule banning puberty blockers and other gender dysphoria treatments for minors in the state.
The Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine approved the rule prohibiting minors from receiving puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and transgender surgery after Florida Surgeon General Joseph A. Ladapo asked the Board of Medicine in June to establish a standard of care for such "complex and irreversible procedures."
The boards disagreed regarding how best to regulate Florida minors who have already begun treatment with puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. The Board of Osteopathic Medicine voted to allow those treatments to continue if they were part of a clinical trial approved by an Institutional Review Board. The Board of Medicine voted against that exception.
The boards had agreed in August to begin a 120-day process to begin crafting rules regarding gender dysphoria treatments for children.
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"Today, the Boards of Medicine & Osteopathic Medicine voted to protect our children from irreversible surgeries and highly experimental treatments," Ladapo said in a statement Friday praising the new rule. "I appreciate their integrity for ruling in the best interest of Florida children despite facing tremendous pressure to permit these risky and unproven treatments."
"Children deserve to learn how to navigate this world without harmful pressure. Florida will continue to fight for kids to be kids," Ladapo added.
Under Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration, the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration ruled over the summer to bar healthcare providers from billing the state's Medicaid program for treatments such as sex reassignment surgery, puberty blockers or hormone therapies.
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The rule change also came amid recent data from the state's Medicaid regulator showing the rates of pharmaceutical and surgical treatments for gender dysphoria among minors receiving Florida Medicaid has skyrocketed in recent years.
The number of children on Florida Medicaid receiving behavioral therapy to treat gender dysphoria increased from 143 in 2017 to 233 in 2021, or nearly 63%, according to state data provided to Fox News Digital in August. Children receiving puberty blockers spiked from 15 children in 2017 to 55 in 2021, an increase of nearly 270%.
Florida's Department of Health has been at odds with the federal government regarding the best treatment for children struggling with gender dysphoria.
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Citing peer-reviewed studies as well as a "lack of conclusive evidence, and the potential for long-term, irreversible effects," Ladapo released a fact sheet in April advising against guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding treatment options for children and adolescents experiencing gender dysphoria.
According to HHS, "gender-affirming care" includes social affirmation at any age, puberty blockers during puberty and cross-sex hormone therapy starting during early adolescence. Irreversible surgery is "typically used in adulthood or case-by-case basis in adolescence," according to the agency.
DeSantis said in August that doctors who "disfigure" young children "based on gender dysphoria" should face legal consequences.
"They don’t tell you what that is ... They are actually giving very young girls double mastectomies, they want to castrate these young boys," DeSantis said over the summer. "Both from the health and children wellbeing perspective, you don’t disfigure 10, 12, 13-year-old kids based on gender dysphoria, 80% of it resolves anyway by the time they get older... So why would you be doing this?"
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In May, several medical professionals told Fox News Digital that they have seen rates of gender dysphoria soar among their young patients in recent years, but that many of their colleagues are reluctant to speak publicly against transgender ideology for fear of both professional and personal retaliation.
Fox News' Emma Colton contributed to this report.