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Florida lawmakers send ban on gender dysphoria treatments for minors to Gov. Ron DeSantis

'This is a mental condition,' Rep. Dr. Ralph Massullo says
Posted at 6:58 PM, May 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-04 18:58:06-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida is poised to ban gender dysphoria treatments for minors. A bill making it law is now on the way to the governor's desk after a final vote in the House on Thursday.  

However, the bill almost didn't happen. In these last few weeks, the chambers were at odds with just how far the policy should go.

But with the session ending in less than 24 hours, a last-minute compromise saved the ban from the dustbin.   

If signed, it'll be a felony to prescribe hormone therapies, puberty blockers and surgery to new underage patients in Florida.

The measure restricts spending state dollars on the treatments and adds hurdles to their access— like bolstering consent. For those minors already receiving the treatments, the bill will direct the state med boards to create an emergency rule within 60 days of a bill signing to determine how to handle those cases. 

Lawmakers were fiercely divided on the issue. During the final debate on the floor, Democrats and Republicans sparred over the provisions and policy's overall goal.

"No one deserves to have essential medical care taken away from them," Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, said.

"This is a mental condition," Rep. Dr. Ralph Massullo, R-Inverness, said. "This is not a physical condition."

The final bill is far from everything the House sponsor, Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, first wanted. It doesn't include restrictions on private insurance carriers, no limits on changing birth certificates, and no long-term lawsuit access for those seeking damages.

"Some of these other things can be revisited in the future," Fine said. "We have children who are being mutilated and castrated today and that will stop. That's what's important."  

The policy and its Republican allies conflict with at least 30 different medical organizations that have offered supportive statements on gender-affirming care. Many consider it beneficial and say it rarely includes surgery.   

"This community is being targeted," Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Delray Beach, said. "They need our protection. We need to be their voice." 

Skidmore was frustrated the GOP supermajority took the action. She felt it was part of a growing pattern in the Sunshine State.   

"The moral police of what people should and shouldn't do with their bodies is abhorrent to me," she said.

The governor’s signature is likely the next step. His name would make the bill’s provisions effective immediately.