Federal judge blocks Florida law restricting health care for trans adults

A federal district judge permanently blocked the state of Florida June 11 from enforcing a law banning gender-affirming health care for transgender adults.

Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that Florida Senate Bill 254 and the related Boards of Medicine rules were motivated by disapproval of transgender people and violate the equal protection rights of transgender individuals.

“Transgender opponents are of course free to hold their beliefs. But they are not free to discriminate against transgender individuals just for being transgender. In time, discrimination against transgender individuals will diminish, just as racism and misogyny have diminished. To paraphrase a civil-rights advocate from an earlier time, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” Hinkle wrote in his ruling. “In the meantime, the federal courts have a role to play in upholding the Constitution and laws. The State of Florida can regulate as needed but cannot flatly deny transgender individuals safe and effective medical treatment—treatment with medications routinely provided to others with the state’s full approval so long as the purpose is not to support the patient’s transgender identity.”

Florida had restricted gender-affirming care in 2023 completely banning medical care for transgender adolescents, as well as severely restricting health care for transgender adults. A three-day trial ensued in December where the court heard expert testimony from experts in psychiatry, endocrinology, medical ethics and pediatric medicine.

“Today’s ruling is a huge win for transgender people and their families,” said Jennifer Levi, GLAD’s senior director of transgender and queer rights, in a statement. “It confirms that health care access must be based on principles of good medicine, not politics. The court today found there is no legitimate purpose for the extraordinary restrictions Florida has put on transgender people’s ability to obtain needed medical care. The decision will no doubt bring huge sighs of relief across Florida by transgender people and those who love them.”

Simone Chriss, director of Transgender Rights Initiative for the Southern Legal Counsel, added, ““The federal court saw Florida’s transgender minor healthcare ban and adult restrictions for what they are — discriminatory measures that cannot survive constitutional review. Today’s ruling blocks the state of Florida’s cruel campaign to deny fundamental rights and basic healthcare to its transgender citizens. We are so proud of our brave plaintiffs, without whom we could not have achieved this victory for the state of Florida.”

After the ruling, Pineapple Healthcare announced that it would be resuming gender-affirming care for its patients immediately.

“Pineapple Healthcare stands firm in our dedication to providing inclusive, affirming, and comprehensive healthcare services to all individuals,” said Ethan Suarez, CEO of Pineapple Healthcare, in a press release. “Judge Hinkle’s ruling is a significant victory for medical integrity and the rights of transgender individuals. We are proud to resume our full range of gender-affirming care services and will continue to advocate for the health and well-being of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Read the full ruling here.

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