TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Four families challenging Florida’s prohibition against puberty-blocking hormones and gender-affirming surgeries for minors filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against state health officials.
The lawsuit filed in Tallahassee federal court against Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo and the state boards of medicine and osteopathic medicine claims the ban violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution by singling out transgender minors and blocking them from obtaining medically necessary care for gender dysphoria.
The Florida Department of Health and the governor’s office didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.
“This ban puts me and other Florida parents in the nightmare position of not being able to help our child when they need us most,” one parent said in a statement.
The anonymous plaintiffs are four mothers with transgender children, ages 9 to 14, from St. Johns, Alachua, Duval and Orange counties. They’re being represented by Southern Legal Counsel, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Human Rights Campaign.
The families are seeking a preliminary injunction, asking the federal court to halt the policy while their case against it proceeds. At least nine states have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming care for minors: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah and South Dakota. A proposed ban is pending before Kentucky’s Democratic governor. Federal judges have blocked enforcement of laws in Alabama and Arkansas, and nearly two dozen states are considering bills this year to restrict or ban care.
Last summer, Ladapo and the Florida health department asked the state boards of medicine and osteopathic medicine to ban all treatment of gender dysphoria for people under 18 years of age. The boards went on to adopt formal rules prohibiting all access to puberty blocking hormones and gender-affirming surgeries for minors.
“This policy came about through a political process with a predetermined conclusion, and it stands in direct contrast to the overwhelming weight of the evidence and science,” Southern Legal Counsel attorney Simone Chriss said in a statement.
According to the lawsuit, the bans contradict guidelines established through years of clinical research and recommended by every major medical association including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
In 2021, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is widely considered to be weighing a run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, signed a bill barring transgender girls and women from playing on public school teams intended for student athletes assigned female at birth.
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