Parents of transgender kids seek to block DeSantis ban on gender-affirming care for minors

The parents of three transgender children in Florida are trying to get a federal judge to stop a new law that bans gender-affirming care for kids. This law is a signature policy of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis as he prepares to run for president.

Friday, an attorney for three families argued their case in front of U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle. The families say they are being taken away from their right to make medical decisions for their children.

DeSantis has cut back on transgender medical care for minors in the state. He often talks about the problem in ways that are at odds with the major medical groups in the country. He is doing this to appeal to the Republican base as he prepares to run for president.

This week, DeSantis signed a law in Florida that makes it illegal to treat gender dysphoria in children with hormones, treatments that stop puberty, or therapies that work against hormones. It also says that children can’t have surgeries or medical processes that change their gender.

The law also says that state money can’t be used for gender-affirming care and adds new rules for people who want to get help. One of these rules is that people have to see a doctor in person, not a nurse or nurse practitioner, and can’t use telemedicine. If this kind of care is given by private groups, the state money they get could be at risk.

Republicans all over the country are making it harder or even illegal for doctors to treat children and teens who want to change their gender.

At least 17 states, like Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and Oklahoma, have now passed rules that limit or ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender children. Federal judges have stopped Alabama and Arkansas from carrying out their laws, and Oklahoma has decided not to carry out its ban while its opponents ask a court to stop it temporarily. This year, several other states are looking at bills that would limit or ban care.

People with gender dysphoria have been able to get these treatments in the U.S. for more than a decade, and big medical groups agree that they are the best way to help them. Most guidelines say that surgery should only be done on people who are 18 or older.

Usually, the first step in treatment is to figure out how upset a person is when their gender identity doesn’t match their given sex. Hormones can be used to help chronic dysphoria if the parents agree, but usually not until the person is 16 years old.

Friday, the parents did not show up in court. It’s not clear when the judge could rule on their desire to stop the law from going into effect. Jennifer Levi, a lawyer, said that the rule is unfair to transgender people and hopes that the judge will decide quickly.

“My hope is that it means these teens will be able to get the care they need quickly, but the judge will decide how long that will take,” Levi said.