A federal judge in Florida, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, issued a preliminary order on Tuesday that partially blocked the state from enforcing its recent ban on gender-affirming care for individuals under 18. The ban, which includes restrictions on puberty blockers and hormone therapy, has been a contentious topic in the ongoing legal battle over LGBTQ rights in the state. The judge’s decision allows three transgender children and their healthcare providers to continue with their treatments while a lawsuit challenging the law unfolds.
The order, applicable solely to the three transgender children involved in the lawsuit and their healthcare providers, will remain in effect throughout the legal proceedings. It comes as the judge considers a lawsuit filed by seven families, four of whom did not join an emergency bid to block the law due to not anticipating an immediate need for gender-affirming care.
In a statement, one of the plaintiff parents expressed immense relief, stating, “Today my entire family is breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing we can now access the treatment that we know will keep Susan healthy and allow her to continue being the happy, confident child she has been,” using a pseudonym to protect her child’s identity.
Florida’s medical licensing boards implemented bans on gender-affirming care for minors in March, and Governor DeSantis subsequently signed a similar ban passed by the state legislature last month. These bans, along with other laws enacted by Florida and several other states, have significantly restricted various aspects of transgender individuals’ lives, encompassing medical care, participation in school sports, and the ability to change identifying documents.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued that the bans violated their right to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution and impeded parents’ authority to make medical decisions for their children. The children involved in the case range from eight to 14 years old, with two already prescribed puberty blockers, while all parents anticipate their children requiring such treatments or hormones in the future.
While Judge Hinkle’s order is not a final judgment, he expressed a belief that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in the lawsuit. He vehemently criticized the ban, deeming it driven by “bigotry,” particularly highlighting an incident where a state legislator referred to transgender witnesses as “demons” during a public hearing.
In the ongoing battle for transgender rights, this legal development marks a temporary victory for those advocating for the protection and access to gender-affirming care for transgender minors in Florida.