Federal court halts Florida’s transgender care ban for families who sued

A federal court on Tuesday issued a preliminary injunction allowing three transgender youths to receive puberty blockers despite Florida Boards of Medicine’s rules and new law, SB 254, banning gender-affirming care for transgender people under 18.

“Gender identity is real,” writes U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle in his ruling. “… I find that the plaintiffs’ motivation is love for their children and the desire to achieve the best possible treatment for them. This is not the State’s motivation.”

This ruling was made as part of an ongoing lawsuit brought by seven Florida parents of transgender children against Florida, arguing that the state’s ban on treatment with puberty blockers, testosterone and estrogen violates the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Three of the seven parents successfully requested and received this preliminary injunction.

In his ruling, Hinkle indicated that these parents will likely succeed in their claims that SB 254 and the Boards of Medicine rules banning treatment such as estrogen, testosterone and puberty blockers for transgender youth are unconstitutional.

“The plaintiffs are likely to prevail on their claim that the prohibition is unconstitutional,” he writes.

Jennifer L. Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, in an emailed statement to the Orlando Sentinel emphasized this part of the ruling.

“It’s important not to miss what the Court also said which is that the law and rules are likely to fail constitutional scrutiny once the Court has the chance to rule on the merits. That is a hugely important part of the ruling which sends a strong signal to medical providers and families about the likely demise of this ban,” Levi wrote.

These treatments have decades of robust clinical evidence indicating their safety, and have been used for other medical conditions such as treating children who begin puberty prematurely, Hinkle writes.

Denying transgender individuals access to this treatment but allowing access for children who need it for other reasons is “differential treatment based on sex and transgender status,” Hinkle writes.

These three adolescents, whose identity along with their parents’ has been kept anonymous, have begun or are about to begin puberty. Each has lived as a gender different than their biological sex for years and risks being outed to peers as transgender if they begin puberty. Their doctors all deem puberty blockers medically necessary, and to not give them risks irreversible harm, the ruling states.

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