Florida lawmakers bar treatment for transgender minors

05 May 2023 08:49am
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX

Miami - Lawmakers in the southern US state of Florida on Thursday approved a proposal barring physicians and health workers from offering transition-related medical care to transgender minors.

The proposal, a priority for conservative Governor Ron DeSantis, who is nearing a likely campaign for the presidency, will become law once he signs it.

The proposed ban, approved by both chambers of the Florida legislature, prohibits gender confirmation surgeries or the offering of treatments such as puberty blockers or hormone therapy to transgender minors.

These methods are used to combat gender dysphoria: the sense of distress that people whose gender identity differs from their biological sex may feel.

DeSantis, 44, a rising star in the Republican party, has promoted a conservative agenda on issues related to education, immigration and abortion rights.

The Republican majority in the state legislature has given him its full support despite sharp opposition from Democrats, who have condemned the new laws but been unable to halt them.

During the debate in the lower House, Republican Congressman Ralph Massullo stated: "We cannot speak something into existence that doesn't exist. We cannot change our sex," according to statements reported by the Miami Herald.

"And for those children that this bill addresses, they cannot change their sex, and they need to learn that fact," he added.

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The initiative includes an exception for minors already receiving puberty blockers or hormone therapy. It also tightens access for adults by prohibiting any public funding of such treatments and preventing doctors from offering them through telehealth rather than in-person care.

Thursday's vote drew the ire of associations such as Equality Florida, which advocates for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

"It's an assault on medical freedom and the freedom to parent," Jon Harris, director of public policy for the group, said in a statement.

"This crusade is about political aspirations, but it has real world consequences for Florida families." Restricting gender affirming treatment has become a major campaign of US conservatives.

A dozen Republican-controlled states have passed laws similar to the Florida bill in recent months. - AFP