February 4, 2023

Florida pediatricians reject state guidance on gender care

It said gender-affirming care is safe and effective when “conducted in close coordination with pediatricians and parents.”

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, or FCAAP, announced it is “urging reconsideration” on the part of the Florida Department of Health following the agency’s guidance discouraging gender-affirming care for transgender children and teens.

On Wednesday, the state health department advised against providing social gender transition care, which helps a child adopt gender-affirming hairstyles, clothing, name, pronouns and more to match their gender identity, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Anyone under 18 also should not be provided puberty blockers or hormone therapy, and gender reassignment surgery should not be considered a treatment option, the state’s guidance continued. HHS notes that gender-affirming surgeries typically are used in adulthood or in case-by-case situations in younger people.

“Research demonstrates that gender-affirming care improves the mental health and overall well-being of gender diverse children and adolescents,” HHS said. Without the appropriate support, the agency continued, children can be subject to rejection, depression, experience thoughts of suicide and could end up homeless.

In a statement, the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics said these negative consequences disproportionally affect LGBTQ+ children, making gender-affirming care “lifesaving.”

“Appropriate gender-affirming care, conducted in close coordination with pediatricians and parents, is safe and effective for treating patients experiencing gender dysphoria,” said FCAAP President Lisa Gwynn in a statement. “It’s disheartening that Florida’s health agency continues to issue child-health guidance that conflicts with broad scientific consensus and without the consultation of pediatric physicians.”

The state’s guidance runs in conflict with the federal government’s, with the Florida Department of Health saying it’s “pushing back” on and questioning HHS’ motives. It said, in part, that the federal government used research with low-quality evidence to draw its conclusions on care.

“The federal government’s medical establishment releasing guidance failing at the most basic level of academic rigor shows that this was never about health care,” State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said in a statement. “It was about injecting political ideology into the health of our children.”

FCAAP says gender-affirming care should be made in consultation with parents and their doctors.

“In the midst of this national youth mental health crisis, obstructing the provision of necessary care does a disservice to medically vulnerable adolescents,” Gwynn said. “Like all children, transgender and gender-diverse youth deserve access to the care they need, and decisions about that care should be left to medical professionals and parents, not to the state.”