Is Florida Joining the Right’s War on Trans Teens? Maybe Not Yet

Today, Florida state health officials released official guidelines on treatment options for trans teens recommending against physicians recommending social gender transition, puberty blockers, hormones, or gender affirming surgery for anyone under 18.

These guidelines are vaguely reminiscent of the Texas initiative to criminalize health care for trans teens. That’s especially the case because the strictures are directed against doctors rather than trans teens themselves. But there is a also strong difference. The Florida guidelines are recommendations that do not carry the force of law and do not define gender affirming health care. Doctors will not be punished for following the federal Department of Health and Human Services

Research demonstrates that gender-affirming care improves the mental health and overall well-being of gender diverse children and adolescents.1 Because gender-affirming care encompasses many facets of healthcare needs and support, it has been shown to increase positive outcomes for transgender and nonbinary children and adolescents. Gender-affirming care is patient-centered and treats individuals holistically, aligning their outward, physical traits with their gender identity.

There are several possible motivations for Florida’s actions. If Kevin McCarthy can make craven gestures to Donald Trump, it’s understandable Florida health officials might be just as craven to Gov. Ron DeSantis and “nullifying” the federal recommendations could be a way to curry favor with the Governor. It might also be that Florida health officials want to contribute to the sense of confusion and fear developing among trans young people and their families. Truthout has a discussion of the possibility below.

News about the statement could add to the heightened sense of fear felt by young people and their parents as the rights of trans and nonbinary youth come under attack in Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and other GOP-led states, Charles said. Activists and journalists should approach far right disinformation carefully.

As Adam Serwer says, “the cruelty is the point” with American conservatives. However, where the rulings of TX Attorney General Ken Paxton create a system of cruelty for trans young people, Florida’s anti-trans “guidelines” are more of a gesture.

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