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Federal Trial Concludes in Challenge to the First State Law Attempting to Deprive Transgender Adults of Healthcare, Florida’s SB 254

Multiple days of powerful testimony highlight the danger and lack of justification for the first law in the country that would seek to deprive transgender adults of healthcare in addition to banning care for adolescents

A three-day federal trial in Doe v. Ladapo, the legal challenge to Florida SB 254 and related Boards of Medicine (BOM) rules that restrict access to medical care for transgender adults and criminally ban medical care for transgender adolescents, concluded Thursday in Tallahassee.  While some other states have restricted medical care for transgender adolescents, many of which have been enjoined by federal courts, Florida has taken this to new extremes by targeting healthcare for transgender adults.

Over multiple days of testimony, plaintiffs described the harms of depriving them or their adolescent transgender children of medically necessary care. Parents explained how being able to obtain doctor-recommended care has made their children’s lives better and resulted in happier, healthier kids, and described the intense suffering that SB 254 has caused them. Plaintiff Lucien Hamel testified that SB 254 has prevented him from being able to access necessary care for himself as an adult anywhere in Florida. 

The new law imposes a web of restrictions that effectively require most transgender adults to leave the state to obtain care. As Hamel testified, this is not a possibility for many Floridians. “The only answer I kept hearing from the community and others was, ‘Just leave Florida,’” he told the court. “I can’t leave Florida. This is my home. I’ve lived here my entire life. This is my son’s home, and for various reasons, I can’t just up and uproot my family and move across the country.”

Statements from plaintiffs

Jane Doe, on behalf of herself and her daughter Susan Doe (proceeding anonymously):

My worst nightmare is having to watch my child suffer because I can’t get her what she needs. We saw how our daughter Susan suffered before we were able to consult with our team of doctors to understand what she was experiencing and make the most informed decisions about her care. She is a happy, confident child now, but if we can’t get her the medical care her doctors recommend I know that’s going to go away. Seeing Susan’s own fear about what will happen to her because of this ban has been one of the hardest experiences we’ve endured as parents. Nobody with a heart could ever do this to her.

Gloria Goe, on behalf of herself and her son Gavin Goe (proceeding anonymously):

If you have children, you will do anything and everything to protect them, to provide what they need. SB 254 is prohibiting my ability as a parent to do that. My son Gavin is one of those children who simply stands out. He’s big-hearted. He is full of zest. He’s always smiling. But I am unable to get him the care he needs in Florida and am greatly concerned about what that means for his mental health and his overall well-being.

Lucien Hamel, on behalf of himself:

Being forced to abruptly stop my medical care this summer has been devastating for both me and my family. I received my care from a competent medical provider that I really trusted. Then I was told that Florida law suddenly won’t let APRNs and Nurse Practitioners provide the care I need. I can’t get an appointment with a physician anywhere in the state. There’s no medical basis for this change – it’s just preventing transgender Floridians like me from getting care. I’m scared and frustrated because I know my health will continue to decline the longer I have to wait, putting incredible stress on me, my wife, and our child.

Multiple medical experts also testified about the well-established standards and guidelines for transition-related care for adolescents and adults, the decades of clinical evidence proving its safety and efficacy, and the damaging impact of the state’s unjustified restrictions on adult patients and providers and, in the case of adolescents, complete ban on care, including criminal penalties for doctors and other health care providers.

The well-established standards of transgender medical care for adolescents and adults have been endorsed and adopted by every major U.S. medical and mental health association.

Medical experts providing testimony

  • Dr. Aron Janssen MD, Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs, The Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Dr. Daniel Shumer MD, Pediatric Endocrinology Specialist, Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatric Endocrinology, University of Michigan; 
  • Dr. Dan Karasic MD, Professor Emeritus, Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco Weill Institute for Neurosciences; 
  • Dr. Loren Schechter MD, Plastic Surgery Services, RUSH University Medical Center, Chicago IL
  • Dr. Kenneth Goodman, PhD, FACMI, FACE, Director, Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy; Director, UM Ethics Programs
  • Dr. Vernon Langford, DNP, Autonomous APRN, FNP-C, President of the Florida Association of Nurse Practitioners;
  • Dr. Brittany Bruggeman MD, Pediatric Endocrinologist, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Florida

Plaintiffs’ attorneys from GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC), National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Southern Legal Counsel (SLC), and Lowenstein Sandler LLP presented evidence that SB 254 and the BOM rules were motivated by the state of Florida’s disapproval of transgender people, have no rational justification, and deny Florida transgender individuals and parents of transgender individuals equal treatment as guaranteed by the U.S. constitution. 

Statements from attorneys

Jennifer Levi, Senior Director of Transgender and Queer Rights, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders

It’s been a privilege to be able to stand up and represent transgender Floridians and their families. The record could not be more clear. SB 254 and the related Boards of Medicine rules reflect invidious discrimination against transgender people. There is no legitimate purpose for these extraordinary restrictions, which do nothing but create suffering for parents, families, and transgender people across the Sunshine State.

Shannon Minter, Legal Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights

As the testimony presented in this trial overwhelmingly showed, there is no medical basis for this dangerous and unprecedented law, which has taken the extreme step of restricting medically necessary care even for adults and imposing criminal penalties on doctors and other health care professionals simply for doing their jobs. This is massive government overreach, and it should be permanently enjoined.

Simone Chriss, Director of Transgender Rights Initiative, Southern Legal Counsel:

The rules and law challenged in this case are part of an orchestrated campaign by the state of Florida seeking to deny fundamental rights and basic healthcare to its transgender citizens. After putting the state’s justifications for the cruel bans and restrictions on trial, we hope to have demonstrated to the court and the public that discriminatory measures such as these cannot survive constitutional muster. We stand with every transgender individual in the state of Florida and their right to make healthcare decisions free from government interference.

Sarah Warbelow, Legal Director, Human Rights Campaign Foundation:

Despite living in a state that has shown blatant discriminatory intent toward transgender people, the families and plaintiffs involved in this case have put their bravery, resilience and humanity center stage. This trial showed that there is no sound reason to deprive people of the ability to make best-practice, medically-necessary healthcare decisions for themselves—especially when the trade-off is the heartache and distress of children and parents.

Thomas Redburn, Lowenstein Sandler LLP:

We believe we presented a compelling case that demonstrates the severe harm to Floridians by allowing the healthcare restrictions in SB 254 to proceed. As we await the court’s decision, we’re hopeful for a ruling in favor of an individual’s ability to make informed decisions about their own, personal medical treatments without discrimination by the State.

About Florida’s ban on transgender medical care

Florida’s adolescent transgender healthcare ban was first enacted in March 2023 through the adoption of rules by the state Board of Medicine and state Board of Osteopathic Medicine, at the urging of the Governor, Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, and the state Department of Health. SB 254, which was passed by the legislature, signed by the governor and took effect in May 2023, cemented into state law the ban on essential medical care for transgender minors, subject to a narrow continued-use exception for minors who had started treatment before the ban. SB 254 also created felony criminal and civil penalties for medical providers.

In addition, SB 254 added severe restrictions that effectively block access to essential medical care for transgender adults and transgender minors who would be eligible for the continued-use exception, including requiring that care be provided exclusively by physicians, barring telehealth, and requiring patients to complete unique, onerous and misleading consent forms.

The case was heard in the U.S. District Court for the District of Northern Florida on December 13, 14, and 21. The Court has certified two plaintiff classes in the case: all transgender adults in Florida who seek gender-transition medical care and all transgender minors in Florida who seek gender-transition medical care, and the parents of those minors. The Court also certified a subclass of the second class consisting of all transgender minors in Florida who are totally prohibited from receiving treatments because they did not initiate them before the effective dates of SB 254 and the BOM rules (and thus were not “grandfathered”), and are prohibited by state law from obtaining such care during puberty and adolescence.

Learn more about the case, Doe v. Ladapo

Blog

Taking on Florida’s Transgender Healthcare Ban in Federal Court

When politicians target vulnerable people, civil rights lawyers are on the front lines. Since its founding, GLAD has gone to court to build a factual record to ensure that constitutional guarantees of freedom and equality extend to all of us in the LGBTQ+ community.

Today, Florida is ground zero for a campaign targeting LGBTQ+ people’s right to be ourselves – and three days from now, we’ll be back in a federal courthouse in Tallahassee challenging one of the most restrictive and hostile anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the country, SB 254.

The scope of SB 254 is breathtaking. Brandishing terms like “diabolical,” “evil,” and “bloodsuckers,” Florida legislators cemented into law criminal prohibitions against parents seeking to secure the healthcare transgender adolescents need. The law also, for the first time anywhere in the country, imposed medical restrictions on transgender adults getting the healthcare they need.

The fact is, the Governor, state officials, and legislators who pushed this law wanted to stop transgender people from being transgender. That can’t and won’t happen, but SB 254 is causing many people to suffer.

Members of the team defending transgender rights in Florida posing outside of the federal courthouse
Members of the team defending transgender rights in Florida

At the trial last week, three of our plaintiffs gave powerful, moving testimony about the law’s impact on transgender people and their families.

Lucien Hamel hasn’t been able to get medical care anywhere in Florida since June because of SB 254. He described the sense of dread he felt when the law passed. “I was left with no answers, no support, nothing. And as days continued to pass, my fears grew. How would our care continue? What would we do?”

Parent Jane Doe shared the fear and heartbreak she has for her daughter, Susan, if she can’t continue to provide the care that has allowed Susan to flourish as a happy, healthy, and secure child. “[N]obody with a heart could ever do this to her,” Jane said on the stand, telling the court that SB 254 is “devastating” to her family.

Gloria Goe described how being able to transition also allowed her son Gavin to thrive. “He’s big-hearted. He is full of zest. He’s always smiling.” But as GLAD attorney Chris Erchull asked her to explain how the law has impacted her family, she tearfully shared how fearful she is that SB 254 will take all that away. “If you have children, you will do anything and everything to protect them, to provide what they need,” she said, but “[SB 254] prevents that.”

No parent should have to be put on a witness stand and literally cross-examined in order to get the healthcare her child needs. Standing up for parents, and for transgender people all across Florida who are harmed by this law has been a tremendous honor and privilege.

In the face of political actors who label us “evil” and a federal judiciary that has shifted far right in recent years, the work of civil rights lawyers defending democracy on the front lines has become more essential than ever. 

Today, we are experiencing some of the most difficult battles in our decades-long fight for the equal rights of LGBTQ+ people – in Florida and across the country. GLAD is stepping up to the challenge. We won’t back down.

We will do everything in our power to see SB 254 and other laws targeting our community overturned. And we will never stop striving to ensure we can all realize the freedom and equality guaranteed by our constitution.

Blog by Jennifer Levi, Senior Director of Transgender and Queer Rights

News

Statement on Denial of Preliminary Injunction for Florida SB 254’s Restrictions on Healthcare for Transgender Adults

A Florida federal district court judge today issued an order denying a motion to temporarily block state restrictions on access to healthcare for transgender adults contained in SB 254 while the legal challenge to the law continues.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs issued the following statement:

“The state’s restrictions on well-established health care in SB 254 serve no purpose other than to intentionally prevent transgender people from receiving the care they need. This case is far from over and we will continue to take every legal step to challenge this law that takes away Floridian’s ability to make important decisions about their own lives and hands it over to the government instead. 

We are preparing now for the trial in November at which we intend to lay out the full evidence of the state’s deliberate targeting of transgender Floridians through the harmful, arbitrary, and medically unjustified rules enacted in SB 254. We also encourage transgender Floridians and their families to seek out resources and take all the steps they can to get the essential medical care they need to live healthy and happy lives.

Florida’s SB 254 is part of a broader landscape of laws that are hurting transgender people in Florida and across the country. We will continue to challenge these dangerous bans that deliberately single out transgender people for discriminatory treatment and ignore well-established medical research until they are permanently overturned. 

All of us who believe in fairness, science, and freedom must also keep fighting on every level to ensure people in Florida and across the country can live their lives free from draconian and unlawful attacks on their health and wellbeing.”

A full trial addressing both the restrictions on adult care and the state’s bans on care for transgender adolescents is scheduled for November. The federal district court issued a prior ruling on June 6 halting enforcement of the ban on healthcare for transgender minors and saying the ban is likely unconstitutional. That order remains in effect.

The plaintiffs are represented by GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD),  the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Southern Legal Counsel, and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Learn more about the case.

News

Transgender Floridians Seek Emergency Block on Adult Healthcare Restrictions in SB 254

Motion for a preliminary injunction in Doe v. Ladapo follows the July 21 filing of an amended complaint adding four adult plaintiffs to the suit challenging Florida’s healthcare ban and seeking class-wide relief for all impacted transgender adults and minors

Four Florida residents filed a motion in federal court yesterday seeking an emergency block on provisions in SB 254 that have created arbitrary, harmful, and medically unjustified restrictions on medically-necessary healthcare for transgender adults. Olivia Noel, Kai Pope, Lucien Hamel, and Rebecca Cruz Evia are all facing dangerous disruptions in their ongoing medical care due to the Florida law.

The motion for preliminary injunction filed yesterday follows the filing of an amended complaint on July 21 expanding the case, Doe v. Ladapo, to challenge state law SB 254’s restrictions on medical care for transgender adults and seeking class-wide relief for all transgender minors and adults who require medical care restricted by SB 254.

“I have been following an established healthcare plan for years, but because of SB 254 my care has suddenly stopped and I can no longer see the provider I trust and who knows my medical history,” said plaintiff Lucien Hamel. “I’m terrified because stopping my care is already having a negative impact on my health and on my family.”

“My physician had to cancel my procedure because of SB 254,” said plaintiff Rebecca Cruz Evia. “I can’t even schedule an appointment with a physician because they are all afraid of this law, even though medical providers have determined this care is medically necessary for me. I’m frustrated and scared about what will happen if I can’t get the care I need.

“I wake up every day feeling like I’m in a nightmare. SB 254 has canceled medically-necessary treatment prescribed for me by my medical team,” said plaintiff Kai Pope.  “As a physician myself, SB 254 alarms me not only because of the devastating harm it is causing me and other transgender Floridians, but because of the disruption it is causing to our healthcare system.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Southern Legal Counsel, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Human Rights Campaign, which issued the following statement:

“SB 254’s restrictions on well-established medical care cause profound harm, serve no legitimate purpose, and reflect gross legislative overreach. SB 254 takes away Floridian’s ability to make important decisions about their own lives and hands it over to the government instead. That should alarm us all.

“In addition to banning established medical care for transgender adolescents and creating criminal and civil penalties for those providing such care, SB 254 enacted severe restrictions on access to care for adults. Advanced Practice Registered Nurse – Nurse Practitioners (APRN-NPs) are critical providers of transgender healthcare in Florida. SB 254 now completely bars them from continuing to treat transgender patients. SB 254 also arbitrarily restricts the use of telehealth for transgender patients and requires in-person consultation for the initial prescription of all transition-related care, a requirement that can be impossible to meet for Florida residents who don’t live near a providing physician. Pursuant to SB 254,  the Boards of Medicine have also created mandatory, one-size-fits-all consent forms that defeat the purpose of informed consent by requiring providers to convey false information to their patients and by imposing extremely burdensome, unnecessary, and medically unjustified requirements that transgender patients must meet to obtain even routine transition-related care. Rather than protecting transgender patients, these restrictions intentionally make it difficult or impossible for transgender adults to receive needed medical care. 

“These restrictions serve no medical purpose and intentionally prevent transgender people from receiving the care they need.”

The motion filed yesterday by plaintiffs Olivia Noel, Kai Pope, Lucien Hamel, and Rebecca Cruz Evia seeks an emergency block on all provisions in SB 254 and related Boards of Medicine Rules restricting access to established transgender medical care for adults while their legal challenge to SB 254 continues.

The federal district court issued a prior preliminary injunction on June 6 halting enforcement of the ban on healthcare for transgender minors and saying the ban is likely unconstitutional. That order allows Florida parents to access necessary medical care for their transgender children.

News

Organizations Suing to Stop Florida’s Transgender Health Ban Add Challenge to Restrictions on Adult Care and Request for Class-wide Relief

Organizations challenging Florida’s transgender healthcare ban on behalf of seven families with transgender children filed an amended complaint today expanding the case to address state law SB 254’s harmful restrictions on access to care for adults and seeking class-wide relief for all transgender minors and adults who require medical care restricted by SB 254.

The complaint filed today adds four individual adult plaintiffs to the lawsuit, Doe v. Ladapo: Olivia Noel, Kai Pope, Lucien Hamel, and Rebecca Cruz Evia. These plaintiffs are all facing dangerous disruptions in their ongoing medical care due to the Florida law.

In addition to banning established medical care for transgender adolescents and creating criminal and civil penalties for those providing such care, SB 254 enacted severe restrictions on access to care for adults. Advanced Practice Registered Nurse – Nurse Practitioners are critical providers of transgender healthcare in Florida barred by SB 254 from continuing to treat patients. SB 254 also bars telehealth access and requires in-person consultation for all care, a requirement that is impossible to meet for Florida residents who don’t live near a providing physician. The law and related Boards of Medicine rules also created medically unnecessary and harmful barriers to care and require physicians to convey false information to their patients.

These restrictions serve no medical purpose and intentionally prevent transgender people from receiving the care they need.

The plaintiffs are represented by Southern Legal Counsel, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Human Rights Campaign, which issued the following statement:

SB 254’s restrictions on well-established medical care cause profound harm, serve no legitimate purpose and reflect gross legislative overreach. SB 254 takes away Floridian’s ability to make important decisions about their own lives and hands it over to the government instead. That should alarm us all.

On June 6, the federal district court issued a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of Florida’s ban on healthcare for transgender minors and saying the ban is unconstitutional. That order allows Florida parents to access necessary medical care for their transgender children while the legal challenge to the ban continues.

The complaint filed today seeks a permanent block on all provisions in SB 254 and related Boards of Medicine Rules restricting access to established transgender medical care for adolescents and adults.

News

Questions About the Legal Status of Florida’s Transgender Healthcare Ban

On June 6, 2023, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of Florida’s ban on healthcare for transgender minors and saying the ban is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit, Doe v. Ladapo, challenges both the Florida Boards of Medicine rules banning healthcare for transgender youth and SB 254, a recently enacted Florida statute that codified the ban for minors and prevents many transgender adults from obtaining care as well.

Seven families with transgender children filed the lawsuit challenging the ban. Three of those families, whose children faced imminent harm from losing access to healthcare, filed a motion for a preliminary injunction asking the court to block the state from enforcing the ban while the legal challenge proceeds.

What does the federal court’s preliminary injunction do?

In addition to providing immediate relief to the three plaintiffs who asked for a preliminary injunction, the court’s order means that the State of Florida cannot enforce the ban. Because the court ruled that Florida’s ban on healthcare for transgender minors is unconstitutional, the State may not enforce either the law or the Board of Medicine rules to bar transgender youth from receiving medically needed transition-related health care.

This means that healthcare providers throughout Florida may provide medically needed care to transgender youth without being subject to professional discipline or criminal prosecution while the case proceeds. 

Does the preliminary injunction issued June 6 have an impact on other Florida transgender people and families that are not part of the lawsuit?

Yes. In its ruling, the Court said the challenged law and rules violate the equal protection rights of transgender youth by denying them medically necessary, provider-recommended healthcare. The Court also said the law and rules violate parents’ constitutionally protected autonomy to obtain established medical care for their children.

State officials may not enforce an unconstitutional law. Because the Court determined that the bans on medical care for transgender adolescents is unconstitutional, those bans may not be enforced by State officials to bar any transgender youth from receiving the care they need.

What should I do if I am being denied access to necessary healthcare in Florida?

Anyone with an immediate, urgent medical need who is unable to obtain essential healthcare in Florida because of SB 254 or the Boards of Medicine rules should get in touch with the legal organizations working on this case. You can reach out at gladanswers@glad.org or complete the intake form at www.GLADAnswers.org.

What are the next steps in the legal case?

The Court’s scheduling order provided that the parties could agree to a trial date, so our goal is to resolve the case expediently and to secure a final ruling overturning the ban as soon as possible.

Does the Court’s order apply to the provision of state law that bars physician assistants (PAs) and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) from prescribing medications for gender transition health care?

No. The order does not apply to that portion of the law; however, materials will soon be filed with the court to more specifically challenge that portion of the law.

Who are the organizations challenging Florida’s healthcare ban?

The organizations challenging the Florida healthcare ban are:

Read more about the case, Doe v. Ladapo.

Printable PDF of this page.

News

Federal Court Halts Enforcement of Florida Transgender Health Ban Against Challengers

A federal district court today issued an order blocking enforcement of Florida state Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine rules banning established medical care for transgender adolescents as well as provisions in SB 254 that codify those rules into state law with added criminal and civil penalties. Today’s order allows Florida parents challenging the ban to access necessary medical care for their transgender children while the legal challenge to the bans continues.

“My husband and I have been heartbroken and worried sick about not being able to care for our daughter in the way we know she needs. I’m sure most any parent can imagine the sense of powerlessness that comes from being unable to do something as basic as get medical care for your child. Today my entire family is breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing we can now access the treatment that we know will keep Susan healthy and allow her to continue being the happy, confident child she has been,” said Jane Doe, who is challenging the ban on behalf of herself and her daughter, Susan.

The families are represented by Southern Legal Counsel, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Human Rights Campaign, which issued the following statement:

Today’s ruling is a powerful affirmation of the humanity of transgender people, the efficacy of well-established, science-based medical care, and of the rights of parents to make informed healthcare decisions for their children. The court recognized the profound harm the state of Florida is causing by forcing parents to watch their kids suffer rather than provide them with safe and effective care that will allow them to thrive. We are incredibly relieved that these Florida parents can continue to get healthcare for their children while we proceed to challenge these bans and eventually see them fully overturned.

In today’s ruling the court indicated that the plaintiff parents are likely to succeed in their claims that SB 254 and the Boards of Medicine rules unconstitutionally strip them of the right to make informed decisions about their children’s medical treatment and violate the equal protection rights of transgender youth by denying them medically necessary, doctor-recommended healthcare.

The challenge to the Boards of Medicine and SB 254 healthcare bans is likely to proceed quickly to trial. 

Questions About the Legal Status of Florida’s Transgender Healthcare Ban

Read the preliminary injunction order

Read more about the lawsuit, Doe v. Ladapo

More information on the safe, effective, and well-established guidelines on medical care for transgender youth.

News

Seven Florida families have added a challenge to SB 254 to their pending lawsuit against the bans issued by the state’s Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine, and are seeking an emergency order blocking both

Parents File for an Emergency Order to Block SB 254 as Governor DeSantis Signs Discriminatory Transgender Health Ban into Law

Florida families have added a challenge to SB 254 to their pending lawsuit against the bans issued by the state’s Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine, and are seeking an emergency order blocking both

May 17, 2023 (TALLAHASSEE) – Three Florida parents have asked a federal court to issue a temporary restraining order immediately blocking enforcement of SB 254, which Governor DeSantis signed into law today. The families, who have a pending challenge to the state Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine rules banning established medical care for their children and other transgender adolescents, are also challenging provisions in SB 254 that codify those rules into state law, add criminal and civil penalties, and create additional barriers for families with transgender adolescents.

Advocates for the families will be in court on Friday to argue their motions to temporarily block the Boards of Medicine rules and the healthcare ban provisions in SB 254 so that they can get their children urgently needed medical care as the case continues.

The families are represented by Southern Legal Counsel, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Human Rights Campaign, which issued the following statement:

This is a state of emergency for Florida parents, who are already being forced to watch their kids suffer rather than get them the safe and effective healthcare they need and that will allow them to thrive. Today, Governor DeSantis doubled down on the nightmare created by the Florida Boards of Medicine rules by signing SB 254 into law. 

This law ignores science, unconstitutionally inserts the state into family privacy and parental decision-making, deliberately provokes family conflict by inviting challenges to established custody orders, and tramples on the rights and wellbeing of transgender adolescents. 

We are asking the court to take swift action to block the ban on access to essential healthcare in SB 254, as well as the Boards of Medicine bans, to stop further harm to transgender youth and their families while the plaintiffs’ case continues.

Read the Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and the Proposed TRO against the enforcement of SB 254

Read the amended complaint

Read more about the pending lawsuit, Doe v. Ladapo

More information on the safe, effective, and well-established guidelines on medical care for transgender youth.

News

“We have no choice but to fight this ban to protect our daughter’s health.” -Plaintiff Jane Doe, challenging the policy on behalf of herself and her daughter, Susan

Four Florida families filed a lawsuit in federal court today challenging the Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine’s new rules banning the medically necessary healthcare their transgender children need.

Efforts to ban established medical care for transgender youth have been widely criticized by physicians, medical associations and researchers, including over 300 healthcare providers in Florida who have experience treating the intense distress that results when a transgender youth can’t live as who they are.

The bans contradict guidelines established through years of clinical research and recommended by every major medical association, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

The policy unlawfully strips parents of the right to make informed decisions about their children’s medical treatment and violates the equal protection rights of transgender youth by denying them medically necessary, doctor-recommended healthcare to treat their gender dysphoria.

The plaintiffs are all proceeding under pseudonyms to protect their children’s privacy.

Among the families challenging the ban are Jane Doe and her 11-year-old daughter, Susan. The Does are a military family who moved to Florida when John Doe was stationed there as a Senior Officer in the U.S. Navy.

“Like most parents, my husband and I want nothing more than for our daughter to be healthy, happy, and safe,” said Jane Doe. “Being able to consult with our team of doctors to understand what our daughter is experiencing and make the best, most informed decisions about her care has been critically important for our family. She is a happy, confident child, but this ban takes away our right to provide her with the next step in her recommended treatment when she reaches puberty. The military doctors we work with understand the importance of providing that evidence-based, individualized care. We’re proud to serve our country, but we are being treated differently than other military families because of a decision by politicians in the state where we are stationed. We have no choice but to fight this ban to protect our daughter’s physical and mental health.”

“This ban puts me and other Florida parents in the nightmare position of not being able to help our child when they need us most,” said Brenda Boe, who is challenging the ban on behalf of herself and her fourteen-year-old son, Bennett Boe. “My son has a right to receive appropriate, evidence-based medical care. He was finally getting to a place where he felt hopeful, where being prescribed testosterone was on the horizon and he could see a future for himself in his own body. That has been ripped away by this cruel and discriminatory rule.”

“Working with our healthcare team to understand what my daughter is experiencing and learning there are established, effective treatments that are already helping her to thrive has been an incredible relief,” said Fiona Foe, who is challenging the ban on behalf of herself and her ten-year-old daughter, Freya Foe. “I know everyone may not understand what it means to have a transgender child, but taking away our opportunity to help our daughter live a healthy and happy life is cruel and unfair.”

“Our daughter has been saying she is a girl since she was three – it hasn’t gone away,” said Carla Coe, a plaintiff in the lawsuit along with her nine-year-old daughter, Christina Coe. “Since she started being able to live as a girl she has been so much happier and better adjusted. Having the resources and support to make the best decisions for her well-being has been so important for our family. I’m scared this ban will take away the essential medical care she may need when she gets older. We just want to do what’s right for our kid.”

The parent plaintiffs and their children are represented by Southern Legal Counsel, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Human Rights Campaign. Given the immediate and substantial harm their children face because of this ban, the plaintiffs intend to file a subsequent motion for preliminary injunction asking the federal court to halt the policy while their case against it proceeds. Similar bans on established medical care for transgender youth have been blocked by federal judges in Alabama and Arkansas.

The enactment of Florida’s transgender healthcare ban, which went into effect on March 16, 2023, has faced considerable scrutiny as a politically-motivated process instigated at the urging of the governor and ignoring established medical and scientific consensus on medical care for transgender youth.

In the summer of 2022, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo and the Department of Health asked the state Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine to adopt a categorical ban on all treatment of gender dysphoria for people under eighteen years of age. In February and March of 2023, respectively, the Boards adopted formal rules prohibiting all access to safe, effective medical treatments for transgender youth who have received a gender dysphoria diagnosis but who have not yet begun puberty-delaying medication or hormone treatments. Surgeon General Ladapo and all members of the Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine are defendants in the families’ suit challenging the ban.

“This policy came about through a political process with a predetermined conclusion, and it stands in direct contrast to the overwhelming weight of the evidence and science,” said Simone Chriss, Director of Transgender Rights Initiative, Southern Legal Counsel. “There is an unbelievable degree of hypocrisy when a state that holds itself out as being deeply concerned with protecting ‘parents’ rights’ strips parents of their right to ensure their children receive appropriate medical care. I have worked with families and their healthcare providers in Florida for many years. They work tirelessly every day to ensure the best health outcomes for their kids and patients, and they are worried sick about the devastating impacts that this ban will have.”

“The Florida Boards of Medicine chose to ignore the evidence and science in front of them and instead put families in the unthinkable position of not being able to provide essential healthcare for their kids,” said Jennifer Levi, Senior Director of Transgender and Queer Rights, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders.

“Parents, not the government, should make healthcare decisions for their children,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “This policy crosses a dangerous line and should concern anyone who cares about family privacy or the ability of doctors to do their jobs without undue government interference.”

“It’s alarming to see such a concerted, top-down effort to target a small and vulnerable population,” said Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign Legal Director. “The Florida Surgeon General, Department of Health and Boards of Medicine should be focused on the real and serious public health issues Florida faces, not on putting transgender kids and their families in harm’s way.”

Read the complaint and visit the case page.


Southern Legal Counsel, Inc. (SLC) is a Florida statewide not-for-profit public interest law firm that is committed to the ideal of equal justice for all and the attainment of basic human and civil rights. SLC’s Transgender Rights Initiative protects the rights of Florida’s LGBTQ+ community through federal impact litigation, policy advocacy, and individual representation.

Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) works to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community. www.hrc.org

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. Since its founding, NCLR has maintained a longstanding commitment to racial and economic justice and the LGBTQ community’s most vulnerable.

Doe v. Ladapo

“We have no choice but to fight this ban to protect our daughter’s health.”

-Plaintiff Jane Doe, challenging the policy on behalf of herself and her daughter, Susan

On March 23, 2023, a group of Florida families filed a lawsuit with the support of GLAD and our partners against a new ban on medically necessary healthcare for transgender youth. The new policies run contrary to the guidance of physicians, medical associations, and researchers.

The rules also unlawfully strip parents of the right to make informed decisions about their children’s medical treatment and violate the equal protection rights of transgender youth by denying them medically necessary, doctor-recommended healthcare to treat their gender dysphoria.

Learn about the Florida families, who are proceeding anonymously in this lawsuit for the protection of their children’s privacy.

GLAD filed this case along with Southern Legal Counsel, Inc., the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

On April 24, the families sought an emergency ruling to resume medical care for their trans children. On May 17, our team asked a federal court to issue a temporary restraining order immediately blocking enforcement of SB 254, which Governor DeSantis signed into law. SB 254 solidifies the policies into law. 

On June 6, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of Florida’s ban on healthcare for transgender minors and saying the ban is unconstitutional.

On July 21, we expanded the lawsuit to include four transgender adults, asking the court to stop the ban for all trans people harmed by the law. Days later, our adult plaintiffs filed a motion asking for an emergency block on the provisions in SB 254 that deny care to trans adults. The plaintiffs — Olivia Noel, Kai Pope, Lucien Hamel, and Rebecca Cruz Evia — are all facing dangerous disruptions in their ongoing medical care due to the Florida law.

We will be back in federal court to argue the case in December 2023.

Learn more about medical care for trans youth and Florida Boards of Medicine’s ban, and check our latest resource for Frequently Asked Questions.

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