Florida Department of Health pushes back on federal guidelines on care for trans youth

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State agency guidance denounces HHS support for trans youth care.

The Florida Department of Health released new guidelines reaffirming its stance against gender-affirming care for transgender youth, following similar efforts by several other Republican-led states across the country.

The agency criticized the US Department of Health and Human Services, which recently declared its commitment to “support and protect” transgender youth, their families and caregivers.

“The federal government’s medical establishment publishing advice that fails at the most basic level of academic rigor shows it was never about health care,” Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said.

He claimed that HHS’ decision to protect gender-affirming care was intended to “inject political ideology into the health of our children.”

Sarah Lovenheim, assistant secretary for public affairs for the US Department of Health and Human Services, criticized the decision.

“HHS supports transgender and gender non-conforming youth and their families – and the vast majority of expert medical associations – in unequivocally stating that gender-affirming care for minors, when medically appropriate and necessary , improve their physical and mental health,” she said in a statement.

In March, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra announced steps the department was taking to protect the decisions of families with LGBTQ youth following a ruling by Texas leaders who said gender-affirming care was “child abuse”.

“At HHS, we listen to medical experts and physicians, and they agree with us, that access to affirming care for transgender youth is critical and can save lives,” Becerra said in a statement. communicated.

HHS has issued guidelines that gender-affirming care for minors, when medically appropriate and necessary, improves their physical and mental health.

“Attempts to restrict, challenge, or mislabel this potentially life-saving care as abuse are dangerous,” HHS said in its guidance.

He continued: “Such attempts prevent parents from making critical health care decisions for their children, create a chilling effect on the health care providers who are needed to provide care for these young people and ultimately have a negative impact on the health and well-being of transgender and gender-noncompliant.”

Florida’s DOH says social gender transition shouldn’t be an option for children or teens, and people under 18 shouldn’t be prescribed puberty blockers or hormone therapy.

It also indicates that sex reassignment surgery should not be a treatment option for children or adolescents.

Instead, the department recommends social support and counseling for transgender students.

HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

The state agency argued that the use of puberty blockers and hormone treatments can lead to slow brain development or cause cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, infertility, increased risk of cancer and thrombosis.

This argument has been debunked by several doctors who spoke to ABC News, who say these potential side effects only pose real risks after puberty and are not a risk for young people taking puberty blockers.

They also claim that teenagers do not benefit from physical sex reassignment operations.

LGBTQ advocates were quick to denounce Florida’s decision.

“Decades of evidence demonstrates that coming out for transgender and non-binary youth contributes to positive mental health outcomes and can reduce suicide risk,” said Sam Ames, Director of Advocacy and Business from the LGBTQ suicide prevention organization The Trevor Project.

“This is appalling. Governor DeSantis and the Florida Department of Health should be doing everything they can to support all children, rather than playing politics with their lives,” the advocacy organization said. of LGBTQ media GLAAD in a statement. youth. Denying children life-saving, medically necessary, gender-affirming care is downright dangerous.

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