Parents of trans kids ask Florida judge to block DeSantis health ban


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The parents of three transgender children in Florida are trying to get a federal judge to block a new law banning gender-based childcare, a trademark policy of the Republican governor. Ron DeSantis as he approaches his presidential campaign.

US District Judge Robert Hinkle on Friday heard arguments from an attorney representing the three families in a case arguing they are being deprived of the right to make medical decisions for their children.

DeSantis has restricted the state’s underage medical treatment of transgender people — often describing the issue in terms at odds with the country’s major medical associations — while drawing on cultural divisions that the Republican base faced before his expected presidential candidacy.

Floridas LawThe law signed by DeSantis this week bans the prescription of anti-puberty drugs, hormones and hormone antagonist therapies to treat gender dysphoria in minors. It also prohibits gender-affirming medical procedures or surgeries on minors.

The law also prohibits the use of federal funds for gender-sensitive care and imposes new restrictions on adults seeking treatment. Those limitations include the requirement that people meet with a doctor in person — not a nurse — and not via telemedicine. Private organizations providing such care could risk any government funding they receive.

The medical treatment of transgender patients for children and adolescents is increasingly subject to restrictions or outright bans Republicans across the country.

At least 17 states have now enacted laws restricting or prohibiting gender-specific medical care for transgender minors, including Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Oklahoma. Federal judges have blocked enforcement of laws in Alabama and Arkansas, and Oklahoma has agreed not to enforce its ban while opponents seek an interim court order to block. Several other states are considering bills this year to limit or ban grooming.

The treatments have been available in the United States for more than a decade and are recommended by major medical associations as an appropriate treatment for people diagnosed with gender dysphoria. According to the guidelines, surgery should generally be reserved for people aged 18 and over.

Treatment usually begins with an assessment of the distress of having a gender mismatch with a person’s assigned gender. Persistent dysphoria can be treated with hormones with parental consent, but usually not until age 16.

The parents did not appear in court on Friday. It’s unclear when the judge might rule on her request to have the law barred. Attorney Jennifer Levi said the law discriminates against transgender people and hopes the judge will act quickly.

“I hope for these youngsters it means they get the care they need very quickly, but the judge will set the timeframe for that,” Levi said.

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