Judge blocks Florida's transgender youth care ban for minors

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(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — A federal judge has called Florida policies restricting gender-affirming care for minors and adults “unconstitutional,” blocking the state’s policies from being enforced.

“Transgender opponents are of course free to hold their beliefs,” Judge Robert L. Hinkle said in the 105-page decision on Florida’s SB 254 and similar Boards of Medicine rules. “But they are not free to discriminate against transgender individuals just for being transgender.”

Hinkle wrote in his decision Tuesday, that bans on puberty blockers and hormone therapy for minors “even when medically appropriate” for treatment of “gender dysphoria” is “unconstitutional.”

Hinkle also blocked parts of the Florida Board of Medicine rules that restrict transgender adult care.

“I’m so relieved the court saw there is no medical basis for this law—it was passed just to target transgender people like me and try to push us out of Florida,” plaintiff Lucien Hamel, an adult transgender patient, said in a statement Tuesday. “This is my home. I’ve lived here my entire life. This is my son’s home. I can’t just uproot my family and move across the country. The state has no place interfering in people’s private medical decisions, and I’m relieved that I can once again get the health care that I need here in Florida.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 254 in May 2023.

“Florida is proud to lead the way in standing up for our children,” said DeSantis in a statement on the signing of the bill. “As the world goes mad, Florida represents a refuge of sanity and a citadel of normalcy.”

Florida’s medical boards passed rules on transgender care in March 2023.

Some supporters of restrictions on gender-affirming care for minors say that young people should wait until they’re older to make these decisions about their health.

ABC News has reached out to DeSantis’ office for comment on the decision.

The lawsuit, filed in July 2023, against state officials over the policies was brought by families and patients impacted by the decision, who were backed by LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and more.

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