By Devan Cole, CNN
Four families in Florida sued the state on Thursday over new rules prohibiting gender-affirming care for transgender youth, arguing the bans violate the US Constitution and should be thrown out.
The two new rules from Florida’s Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine prohibit medical professionals in the state from providing gender-affirming care to minors in the state with gender dysphoria, including by administering puberty blockers, providing cross-sex hormone therapy and performing “sex reassignment surgeries, or any other surgical procedures, that alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics.”
The rules provide an exception to the hormone therapy and puberty blocker provisions for minors that were undergoing such treatments prior to the effective date of the rules. The Board of Medicine’s rule went into effect on March 16 and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine’s rule goes into effect March 28.
The plaintiffs in the case are four anonymous transgender minors in Florida and their parents. Only one of the plaintiffs — a 10-year-old trans girl — had been receiving some form of gender-affirming care at the time that the case was brought, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in a federal district court in Tallahassee.
The plaintiffs are being represented by several leading LGBTQ rights groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. They name the state’s surgeon general and the two medical boards and its members as defendants.
“The transgender medical bans are not narrowly tailored to further a compelling government interest, substantially related to any important governmental interest, or even rationally related to a governmental interest. Accordingly, the transgender medical bans violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the lawsuit states, referring to the US Constitution.
CNN has reached out to the state for comment on the lawsuit.
LGBTQ advocates and many physicians regard gender-affirming care as medically necessary, evidence-based care that uses a multidisciplinary approach to help a person transition from their assigned gender — the one the person was designated at birth — to their affirmed gender, the gender by which one wants to be known. Major medical associations agree that gender-affirming care is clinically appropriate for children and adults with gender dysphoria.
Though the care is highly individualized, some children may decide to use reversible puberty suppression therapy. This part of the process may also include hormone therapy that can lead to gender-affirming physical change. Surgical interventions, however, are not typically done on children and many health care providers do not offer them to minors.
Lawmakers in Florida are currently considering legislation that would codify the rules that are now being challenged in court. A number of other GOP-led states have already put similar bans on their books, including Georgia and Iowa, which enacted bans on gender-affirming care this week.
Tennessee, Mississippi, Utah and South Dakota have also enacted such bans this year. Meanwhile, bans passed in recent years in Alabama and Arkansas have been temporarily blocked by federal courts.
In pushing the health care bans, Republicans have argued that decisions around such care should be made after an individual becomes an adult, though lawmakers in some states have sought to push bans as far back as the age of 26.
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