Florida’s Anti-Trans “Guidelines” Are a Partisan Attack That Could Harm Youth

Experts and activists claim that the governor’s administration released a non-binding statement. Ron DeSantis was in Florida Wednesday, asking medical providers to deny young people gender-affirming healthcare. This is a baseless attack by partisans that will have no impact on efforts in court to defend trans and LGBTQ rights. Although the statement doesn’t hold legal weight, it still has the potential to scare and intimidate trans youth and their families, activists said, and should be emphatically opposed.

Florida state health officials released “guidelines” on Wednesday that say children and adolescents should not receive potentially lifesaving gender-affirming treatments for gender dysphoria, including so-called “social gender transitions” such as changing pronouns and hairstyles that do not involve medication or medical procedures.

LGBTQ activists say the Florida Department of Health’s statement is a desperateIt is evidently a partisan effort to spread lies regarding trans and nonbinary youth, as Republicans try to whip their voters into a anti-LGBTQ frenzy in advance of the midterms. Legal experts stress that the so-called “guidelines” do not carry the force of law and are unlikely to impact legal challenges to any future anti-LGBTQ legislation passed in the state.

Instead, consider using the “guidelines”According to Carl Charles, a senior lawyer at Lambda Legal, the statement appears to be nothing but an empty and scientifically incorrect political statement made by far-right ideologues in the Florida health department. Charles added said Florida’s constitution prevents state judges from deferring to opinions issued by state agencies in legal cases, and the statement would do little to bolster any future anti-LGBTQ laws passed under DeSantis and inevitably challenged in court.

However, that doesn’t mean the health department’s “guidance” will have no impact. Charles stated that news of the statement could lead to a greater fear among parents and young people as rights of transgender youth are under attack in Arkansas and Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana. Alabama, and other GOP-led states. Journalists and activists should be cautious when approaching far-right disinformation.

“I don’t think it’s responsible to scare vulnerable families and children who are already scared about what is going on and trans youth being targeted,” Charles said in an interview.

The Florida statement is directly in response to a fact sheeta memorandum to state agencies on gender-affirming health care for young people issued by the Biden administration. It correctly states that trans youth face significant health care disparities, and are at increased riskSuicide and mental health issues. Use cherrypicked data rigorously debunked research, the Florida guidelines attempt to push back on federal health officials with what Charles called “off-the-cuff opinionating.”

Gender-affirming services include a variety of medical and psychological services. Conservatives, fueled by viral misinformation, are laser-focused on the use of hormones to delay puberty and to promote physical development that is consistent with a child’s identity, which is recommendedThe American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatricians When they reach an appropriate age, for transgender youth. These treatments are just one part of a larger model of care for transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming individuals.

Experts across the country echo the sentiment of the federal guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services say that “social affirmation” of adolescents who adopt gender-affirming pronouns, hairstyles, clothing and restroom accommodations is critical for fostering better health outcomes. Social affirmation is used at any stage of a child’s development because social transitions are flexible, adapting to the child’s identity, wishes and expression as they grow.

A social transition is, in fact, the most common form for people to transition from one gender to another. Research showsTransgender men make up 73% of the population, while transgender women make up 78%.

Florida officials appear to conflate “social gender transitions” with medical and psychological treatment for young people diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Recognizing that a social change is important for providing quality health care is not a separate medical intervention. It is not clear if the Florida Health Department is encouraging doctors to use the correct names and pronouns of their patients and to respect their identities.

Jeremy Redfern, a spokesman for the department, said in an email that research on “social gender transitions” is “inconclusive.” Therefore the “precautionary principle” of medicine must be applied, and “the burden of proof falls on those claiming that there is a benefit,” Redfern wrote.

However, affirming a social transition is indicated “across the board” for transgender and nonbinary children because it is not a medical intervention, according to Charles. Affirming a patient’s identity is central to providing gender-affirming health care for any type of medical issue, from treatment a sinus infection to healing a broken arm. It is, activists insist, a fundamental human right.

When asked “yes or no” whether the Florida Department of Health is discouraging doctors from affirming a young patient’s social transition and gender identity in the course of medical treatment, Redfern deflected, saying the guidance and evidence “speak for itself.” The guidance says adolescents should be “provided social support from peers and family” and seek counseling from a licensed provider, but it does not clarify what type of “counseling” is encouraged.

“I think this is really just a political talking point document that is not based in accurate and available science and data and was released to serve a partisan purpose,” Charles said, adding that civil rights attorneys are closely following anti-LGBTQ legislation in Florida and across the country.

Serena SojicBorne is an organizer with the Real Name Campaign who works with queer and trans youth activists in Louisiana, said government advisories such as Florida’s anti-trans “guidelines” can be lethal considering the high rates of suicideMental distress among transgender and gender-nonconforming young people

“We know it doesn’t take much to recognize that young kids are going to be terrified by something like this, and we know that mental health issues are going to go up, and kids are going to be more afraid of getting the care they need,” Sojic-Borne said in an interview.

Sojic-Borne stated that many young people are organizing and not living in fear. For example, in New Orleans, student activists staged a walkout at a school to protest anti trans and anti-LGBTQ copycat laws. Youth rallies are also planned for outside of legislative offices.

“The point here is that kids aren’t being passive, youth are responding and youth are fighting back for their rights,” Sojic-Borne said.

Before you go Please read the important update below

Millions of readers have relied on this site for the last 20 years. TruthoutTo provide transparent, accurate journalism in times of crisis and political turmoil. We’ve been proud to remain donor-supported — not once accepting money from advertisers or corporate funders. Now, however, our survival is in jeopardy.

Over the last year, we’ve struggled to meet our basic operating costs, as Facebook and Google have reduced the visibility of non-corporate news stories. Our stories are not being seen by as many people as they should, at a time when trustworthy journalism is so urgently needed.

We’re working hard to mitigate these issues but we still have an immediate need for your help, especially right now. We still have 7 days to go in our fundraiser. We need $41,000. Your support is greatly appreciated. Whether you’re able to make a $5 monthly donation, or give more — we need you, today.

Please do your best to help us get through these difficult times.

Donate Now