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The Florida Board of Medicine decides to ban

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TALLAHASSEE – Amid an outcry from the LGBTQ community and harsh criticism from a host of doctors and medical professionals, the Florida Board of Medicine A plan on Friday would ban doctors from providing treatments such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy to transgender people under the age of 18.

Friday’s decision came after the Florida Department of Health last month filed a motion asking the Medical Board to initiate a rule-making process on the contentious issue. The Board of Medicine also argued that the State Agency for Health Care Administration plans to block the Medicaid program from covering such treatments for gender dysphoria in adolescents and adults.

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As his political presence on the national stage continues to soar, Governor Ron DeSantis is among Republican leaders across the country targeting transgender treatment for young people. The governor, who is seeking re-election in November, argues that children are prematurely allowed to undergo treatments that can have lasting harmful effects.

But many medical professionals — including many medical companies — are denouncing the actions taken by the DeSantis administration, saying the state’s claims are contrary to established standards.

People on both sides of the issue crowded into Friday’s medical board meeting in Broward County, with supporters of the Department of Health’s proposal wearing “Let Kids Be Kids” decals. Opponents held a rally ahead of the meeting and pleaded with the council to reject the petition.

Addressing the board, Health Ministry Secretary Joseph Ladapo acknowledged the “strong feelings about the issue” in the room.

But Ladapo, who is the state’s surgeon general, argued that current standards of care are a “substantial deviation” from the “level of evidence and data surrounding this issue.”

“It’s very clear that…effectiveness is completely uncertain,” explained Ladapo, who said his views on the subject had “evolved.” “I mean, maybe it’s effective, but the scientific studies that have come out today don’t support it. … Could that change in the future? It’s possible. I think it’s It’s highly unlikely given what I’ve reviewed, but it is possible.

Quentin Van Meter, a pediatric endocrinologist who served as an expert for the state on the matter, warned the council that a growing number of children are seeking puberty blockers or other medical interventions.

“That’s what we’re dealing with. We’re dealing with a monumental epidemic of growing proportions,” said Van Meter, who is an outspoken critic of transgender treatment for young people. “This is a giant experiment on American children.”

Van Meter also said that Sweden, Finland and the UK have stopped treatment for young transgender people because “they have found that there is far more harm than benefit in allowing these children to receive any type of treatment. ‘medical intervention”. According to Van Meter, approximately 127,000 children across the United States receive gender-affirming treatment.

But Michael Haller, professor and chief of pediatric endocrinology at the University of Florida, disputed Van Meter’s comments, saying fewer children were receiving gender-affirming hormones or other therapies than the public didn’t. ‘was led to believe and that the numbers do not increase. .

Haller and other doctors have also argued that standards of care for trans youth were developed by professional medical societies after years of vigorous scientific debate.

Questioning Haller, board chair David Diamond noted that other countries have changed their approaches to treating gender dysphoria, which the federal government clinically defines as “significant distress a person may experience when the sex or gender assigned at birth is not the same as their identity”. .”

“Do you have any idea what the scientific basis may be, why they changed their opinions, or is it your opinion that it was not a scientific decision but rather based on other factors?” asked the diamond.

“I think it’s impossible to completely separate political decision-making from science,” Haller said.

Diamond, an oncologist, pointed to breast cancer treatments adopted in the 1990s that were later found to be harmful.

“At the end of the day, just because you think something works doesn’t mean it works,” the board chairman said. “The point is…we need to constantly evaluate what we’re doing and have the ability to say that maybe what we’re doing is wrong. Maybe our beliefs are wrong. Maybe we can listen to the other person on the other side or accept the newer data and potentially make our position a little better, a little more refined, to better seek out the truth.”

Diamond asked Haller and her UF colleague, Kristin Dayton, if they thought the board should adopt guidelines or rules for gender dysphoria.

Dayton, a pediatric endocrinologist specializing in gender dysphoria, said such a plan would be “redundant” because standards of care already exist. But Haller has indicated he doesn’t trust the state to push forward his own plan.

“If the redundancy was such that it was consistent with general practice and data, then I think that would be adequate. But clearly that’s not the state’s intention,” Heller said. “They have provided you with a recommendation for a rule that is contrary to what almost all reasonable providers of gender-affirming care and gender-based care in general would say is the standard of care.”

If the guidelines are finalized, Florida would be the only state in the nation where a medical board has banned transgender treatments for teens, according to Yale School of Medicine professor Meredithe McNamara.

A handful of other states have passed laws blocking treatment, but McNamara, who specializes in adolescent medicine, told the News Service of Florida this week that she had “never heard of” a medical board. State prohibiting such care.

“Standards for health care do not come from states, do not come from governments. They come from clinical research that is reviewed, approved and discussed in competent expert groups and published and widely disseminated and adopted by people around the world. around the world,” she said. .

Many Friday attendees urged the board to accept the health department’s petition, but Kaleb Hobson-Garcia said he made the seven-hour drive from Tallahassee to share his experiences with the panel.

“I wasn’t always the 20-year-old man you see standing in front of you. … I used to be an 11-year-old kid who just changed his name to Kaleb,” he said. he declares.

Hobson-Garcia, 20, said he and his parents saw a doctor for a year before starting medical treatment. He said he started taking puberty blockers at 12, hormone suppressants at 13 and had “superior surgery” at 14. and 18 for “bottom” surgery or removal of the penis.

“The medical treatment I received as a miner was essential for me to come out of my depression and become the happy, healthy person I am today,” Hobson-Garcia said. “My identity is not an epidemic. We cannot bear to lose the progress towards a happier, healthier future for all Floridians.”

Kevin Cairns, an interventional pain specialist who serves as vice-chairman of the board, was the only board member to vote against granting the Department of Health petition to start the rule-making process.

Ernie Sauve was among those who asked the council to go ahead with the plan. As someone who is fluent in Spanish, Sauve said he “could identify” as a Spaniard, but that doesn’t make him Spanish.

“In my time, women were women. Let children be children. … Let’s get back to reason, common sense and truth,” he said.