In a win for transgender advocates, a federal judge has blocked parts of Florida’s new bill that would ban healthcare for trans youth and add restrictions for adults seeking care for gender dysphoria.
In the order, Judge Robert Hinkle said that the law violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.
In an even bigger victory, the U.S. District judge for the Northern District of Florida wrote an entire section titled “Gender identity is real,” slamming the credentials of the experts who spoke against treatment of transgender people as well as listing medical organizations that support standards of care.
“The elephant in the room should be noted at the outset,” he wrote. “Gender identity is real. The record makes this clear.”
Nic Zantop of Transinclusive, a South Florida transgender advocacy group, told Out SFL:
“Amidst the erosion of so many fundamental human rights, this preliminary injunction from Judge Hinkle is a welcome bright spot. It affirms what trans people, our families, loved ones, and major medical associations all agree on: restricting access to best-practice, life-saving healthcare does not erase the existence of trans, nonbinary, and gender diverse individuals, but it does hinder our ability to live healthy and equitable lives.”
After months of meetings by the Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine, the two voted in March to ban doctors from treating youth with gender dysphoria. The two groups heard testimony for hours before voting against the transgender community in a matter of minutes. In response, three families with transgender children filed a lawsuit against Florida Surgeon General Joseph Lapado in April. They were represented by Southern Legal Counsel, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Human Rights Campaign.
Closing out the legislative session, Florida lawmakers passed SB 254, which made it illegal for transgender children to seek care in the state of Florida and possible for doctors to lose their license for treating transgender youth. It also restricted access for transgender adults.
But with so many attacks on the LGBTQ community, the new order is a victory.
“The court recognized the profound harm the state of Florida is causing by forcing parents to watch their kids suffer rather than provide them with safe and effective care that will allow them to thrive,” the Southern Legal Counsel said in a statement. “We are incredibly relieved that these Florida parents can continue to get healthcare for their children while we proceed to challenge these bans and eventually see them fully overturned.”