Judge hears — but issues no opinion — on request to halt new transgender care law, board rules

Transgender pride rainbow waving flag. Seamless cgi animation highly detailed fabric texture in cinematic slow motion. LGBTQ 3d background of fight for rights and equality symbol.
'The state has decided people should not be trans.'

Florida’s ban on minors accessing gender-affirming care remains in effect after a federal judge adjourned a hearing Friday without ruling from the bench on whether to block a new state law as well as a pair of medical board rules.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said he wanted to hear from, at minimum, Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office and said he wanted to ensure that the court and state had access to the medical records of the three transgender children who, along with their parents, have challenged the new bans.

The Senior Director of Transgender and Queer Rights for the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, Jennifer Levi, argued that the bans violate the plaintiffs’ equal protection rights and, if not prevented from taking effect, jeopardize the health and safety of transgender minors and put the future of the clinics that treat transgender patients at risk of shuttering.

Mohammed Jazil, counsel to the Florida Board of Medicine, was the only attorney who spoke on behalf of the state Friday and Hinkle peppered him about the sweeping provisions in SB 254. The law would subject physicians who treat transgender minors with puberty blockers and the surgeons who operate on them to criminal charges.

While attorneys for the plaintiffs argued the state had the ability to protect the health safety and welfare of the public, Hinkle, who also is presiding over a separate challenge to a rule banning Medicaid from reimbursing for the care, appeared empathetic to the plaintiffs.

Chloe Cole made headlines when she testified in support of trans care bans for minors at Board of Medicine meetings and in the Florida Legislature, but she is from California. Hinkle noted that the state hasn’t been able to produce one resident who was treated with hormones as a minor or operated on and who now regrets the choice.

Hinkle also noted that SB 254 contains a provision in child custody disputes that lets Florida state courts take emergency action and remove children from parents who support gender-affirming care. The plaintiffs didn’t request Hinkle to halt that section of the law from taking effect, but he used it to underscore how far the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis has taken on transgender care.

“The state has decided people should not be trans,” Hinkle said to Jazil.

But Jazil countered, “I don’t think that’s what the state decided.”

Then Hinkle pressed Jazil, asking him, “What would the state have done differently than what it has done?”

While SB 254 authorizes criminal prosecution, Jazil told Hinkle that the Florida Board of Medicine can’t bring criminal charges against doctors for its rules.

Physicians’ concerns for criminal and professional prosecution may not be unfounded given the actions the DeSantis administration has taken on some of these issues. Hinkle pointed to the suspension of Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren. DeSantis suspended him after he promised not to prosecute abortion providers and enforce the state’s so-called don’t say gay law. Hinkle said that Warren’s position on transgender medical access also played into DeSantis’s decision to suspend Warren.

And Disney’s long-standing governance structure was changed after the company made clear it didn’t support DeSantis’s efforts to ban teachers from instructing students on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“You can see how doctors would be concerned and might not think just a district judge ruling wouldn’t be enough to alleviate their concerns,” Hinkle said.

It’s not clear when Hinkle will rule on the request for the injunction but Levi, told reporters she expects a ruling on the restraining order “fairly quickly.” She also said she was optimistic.

“I think we got a really fair hearing today from a judge who very much understands that what the state law does now is to throw up barriers for families that are doing nothing other than trying to support their adolescents. And I think he understands the issues, and we’re really hopeful about a positive result,” she said.

Hinkle did suggest that, if granted, he would most likely draft it to apply only to the three named plaintiffs.

For now, Levi said, that would be enough.

“I think that getting an order from this court that ensures that our plaintiffs can get the health care that they need and that families can support their transgender adolescence is a huge step forward.”

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


  • He Who Is

    May 20, 2023 at 8:21 am

    Christian bullies, misogynists & homophobes, antiSemitic and slobbering in Churches with their snakes and speaking in tongues….Amerikkka.,

  • Dont Say FLA

    May 20, 2023 at 8:25 am

    What is it about today’s Conservatism that requires candidates to plant a flag in territories that ensure Independents will vote for the other guys? How is that being fiscally responsible, alienating non-judgey voters who simply are not going to vote for judgey jerks? People are more important than policy position. “I don’t like trans people, therefore Democrats can be in charge.” It’s just dumb beyond words. Go to church and gossip about trans kids are going to hell, if that makes you happy, but leave it out of politics, PLEASE.

  • Barbara Vaughn

    May 20, 2023 at 3:32 pm

    Young people cannot vote until they are 18 (or is it 21?), they can not get a drivers license until they’re 16, but the left wants to let them make misguided decisions that for the most part are life-long and irrevocable while still in their puberty? This is absurd to put it mildly and unconscionable to put it less mildly. The questions in my mind are: who is profiting from this abomination and what ideology is this serving? And, who are the sick parents who have been persuaded that this is a good idea for their precious children?

    • Dont Say FLA

      May 22, 2023 at 12:22 pm

      Republicans certainly feel like they can profit from vocally placing themselves in the middle of family decisions made by a quantity of families numbering in the extreme low single digits, Barbara. All while ignoring how they’re totally fine with the commonplace genital mutilation known as circumcision and are almost certainly all themselves circumcised aka mutilated.

      • chad

        May 31, 2023 at 12:28 am

        Your “argument” doesn’t make any sense. Gee, Go Figure.
        Barbara is 100% Correct.

  • Ian

    May 21, 2023 at 8:24 am

    We all know that Judge Hinkle, who is a left-wing activist judge, will rule in favor of the plaintiffs. Later, his flawed and misguided ruling will be overturned on appeal.

Comments are closed.


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