Florida transgender care guidelines prohibit social transition for young people

The Florida Department of Health has released new guidelines that attempt to ban gender-affirming treatments for transgender youth in the state. The guidelines, released April 20, advise against gender-affirming care for youth in the state in any capacity. Going further than anti-trans legislation that has been enacted in other Republican-led states, Florida’s non-binding guidelines seek to ban not only medical transitioning for trans children, but also social transition. Here’s what families need to know.

Florida seeks to ban social transition for trans children

Florida Surgeon General Joseph A. Ladapo released new guidelines on transgender care that should be made available in the state. Pointing to a recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services fact sheet that makes it clear that gender-affirming care for youth should be supported, Florida recommended not transitioning trans youth in any capacity. it would be.

Citing a “lack of conclusive evidence and the potential for long-term irreversible effects”, the new guidelines state that children who identify as gender diverse or transgender should not be offered gender-affirming care. including social transition.

Social transition is usually the first step a transgender person takes in their transition, and it is the only step that prepubescent trans children can take. This may include using a new name, new pronouns, a new haircut, or adopting a new style that allows them to affirm and express their gender identity. At any time, a person in social transition can choose to return to their old name, pronouns and style. — the social transition is completely reversible.

However, Florida’s new guidelines make it clear that “social gender transition should not be a treatment option for children or adolescents.” This is despite the fact that childhood social transition brings mental health issues like depression and anxiety back to rates typical of cisgender children, whereas trans children who have not transitioned tend to have much worse mental health.

In addition, the guidelines also prohibit any gender-affirming medical treatment, including hormone therapy, puberty blockers or gender-affirming surgeries (which are not generally offered to trans youth). Gender-affirming medical care can save lives: A study found that when trans and non-binary youth aged 13-21 received such care, their rates of depression dropped by 60% and their suicidal thoughts by 73%.

New guidelines could support conversion therapy

Instead of gender-affirming care, the guideline says minors who “experience gender dysphoria” should be provided with “counseling” and “social support”.

Without detailing what exactly the counseling would consist of, one can assume that the therapy sessions would avoid affirmative care, given the ban on providers from accompanying the social transition. This essentially means that the only legal care a trans or queer child could have access to in the state is conversion therapy, designed to attempt to change a person’s gender identity and expression (a practice prohibited in several countries, including Canada and New Zealand).

States across the country are tackling transgender youth’s access to gender-affirming care

Similar laws aimed at gender-affirming care for trans youth have been filed in several other states in recent months. Last April, Arkansas became the first state to ban gender-affirming care, and Texas soon followed. Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s order equates gender-affirming care with child abuse and has already sparked several lawsuits for youths in the state.

What sets Florida’s ban apart is that it’s the first state to designate social transition as part of the restrictions.

Leading medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and American Medical Association, have made it clear that gender-affirming care is not only clinically appropriate for children. and adults, but that access to such care can save lives.

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