Florida Health Department advises against gender-affirming care for young people

By Alta Spells and Jen Christensen, CNN

The Florida Department of Health is advising against all gender-affirming care for children and adolescents in new guidelines contrary to guidance from major medical associations and federal health officials.

According to guidelines released Wednesday, children who identify as transgender or gender diverse should not be offered social transition care – the process by which a child or adolescent adopts a name, gender pronouns and clothing. that match their gender identity – they should also not be offered puberty blockers, hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery.

Sex reassignment surgery is a treatment that is not usually offered to children.

These guidelines do not apply to children “born with a genetically or biochemically verifiable disorder of sex development (DSD),” the department said. And despite its stance on gender-affirming care, the department encouraged “peer and family social support” as well as advice from a licensed provider.

The guidance on gender-affirming care comes as some states, including Texas and Alabama, have moved to restrict the health care rights of transgender youth. It also follows information published by the US Department of Health and Human Services in support of gender-affirming care for youth. The federal guidelines have been available online since at least March.

Gender-affirming care is a form of supportive health care that consists of “medical, surgical, mental health, and nonmedical services for transgender and nonbinary people,” according to HHS.

Major medical associations – including the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry – also agree that gender-affirming care is clinically appropriate for children and adults and can save lives.

The state health department, led by Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, said its guidelines were issued to “clarify the evidence” contained in the federal government’s fact sheet. The agency went on to point to a “lack of conclusive evidence and the potential for long-term irreversible effects” as driving factors for issuing the guidelines.

“The federal government’s medical establishment publishing guidance that fails at the most basic level of academic rigor shows it was never about health care,” Ladapo said in a press release. “It was about injecting political ideology into the health of our children. Children with gender dysphoria should be supported by their family and seek advice, not pressured into making an irreversible decision before they turn 18,” he said.

In recent months, Ladapo has faced notable controversy for his stances on vaccinating and masking Covid-19. Last month, under his guidance, Florida became the first state to break with US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations that anyone age 5 and older get the Covid-19 vaccine. Instead, the health department issued guidelines advising against vaccinating healthy children.

The ACLU called the state health department’s decision “a desperate effort to sow lies and fear about transgender youth, their parents and their health care,” in a post Wednesday. on Twitter. “Young trans people know who they are. We are ready to do everything in our power to defend the fundamental rights of trans youth and their families.

“The guidelines of the Florida Department of Health are in direct opposition to the best practices of all major medical organizations in the country. The demonization of vital, medically necessary health care for transgender youth is dangerous and wrong,” the ACLU tweeted on Wednesday.

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