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Florida ban on trans care for minors struck down

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The federal judge has struck down a Florida law and regulations that banned puberty blockers and other treatments for children with gender dysphoria. The ruling also blocks restrictions on medical treatments for transgender adults. NPR's Greg Allen reports the decision is being hailed as a major victory for transgender rights.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: In a detailed 105-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said a law passed by Florida's Republican-led legislature and signed by Governor Ron DeSantis is unconstitutional because it unfairly discriminates against transgender people.

Gender identity is real, the judge writes. During the three-day trial in December, Judge Hinkle, appointed by former President Bill Clinton, says a medical expert called by the state acknowledged that gender-affirming care is sometimes appropriate. The Florida law and regulations adopted by the state's medical board, he says, were motivated by bias against transgender people. He writes, for some, the denial that transgender identity is real is not different in kind or intensity from the animus that has attended racism and misogyny.

Under Governor DeSantis, Florida has taken the lead in opposing treatments for transgender children and adults. Simone Chriss, an attorney with Southern Legal Counsel, represented four transgender adults and seven parents of transgender children who sued the state. This ruling, she says, restores their rights to health care taken away by the 2023 law.

SIMONE CHRISS: So now, transgender individuals can receive evidence-based, medically necessary care. And it places decision-making back in the hands of the parents, the doctors and the patient, which is where it should be.

ALLEN: The ruling overturns regulations that required transgender adults to receive hormonal therapy and other care only from doctors - not from nurses, physicians assistants, pharmacists and others. It also once again allows minors with gender dysphoria in Florida to receive puberty blockers and other therapy. The plaintiffs did not challenge, and the judge's ruling did not address a ban on surgery for transgender minors.

Last year, Judge Hinkle struck down Florida's ban on using Medicaid to treat gender dysphoria. The DeSantis administration is appealing that decision and says it will do the same with this one, too. In a statement, a spokesperson for the governor says the state will continue to oppose what it calls, quote, "radical, new-age gender ideology."

Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and environmental stories. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.
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