On October 28, 2022, the Florida Board of Medicine began its meeting by letting nine people, one after another, explain why they thought they had made a mistake in seeking gender-affirming care. Their testimony was painful to listen to as each told their story.
As the parent of a transgender child for whom gender-affirming care saved her life, nothing in their stories resonated with my family’s experience. My child has not been abused or assaulted. My child did not immediately receive gender-affirming hormones. Instead, everything we have experienced has been thoughtful, deliberate, and informed.
While I’m sorry for the nine people who think they made a mistake, that doesn’t negate the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Clinical Endocrinology, and World Professional Association for Transgender Health. Instead of relying on the judgment of these major medical associations, the Board of Medicine decided on November 4 to begin the process of developing rules prohibiting Florida doctors from providing gender-affirming medical treatment to minors with gender dysphoria (a feeling of alienation from some or all of the physical characteristics or social roles of the assigned gender, which may cause distress).
What is gender-affirming care? Gender-affirming care is a life-saving process. It doesn’t make someone transgender. It’s not necessarily about drugs or surgery. Gender affirmation care is individualized. Some minors begin gender affirmation care and come to the decision that their sex aligns with that of their reproductive organs. Some minors begin gender-affirming care and come to the decision that their gender aligns in some ways with that of their reproductive organs and in others does not. Some minors begin gender affirmation care and come to the decision that their sex does not match their reproductive organs.
The Florida Board of Medicine has designated puberty blockers as unsafe, ignoring 40 years of data on their use to treat precocious puberty. What do puberty blockers do? They give transgender minors a puberty break. They give them a chance to figure out if they are transgender or if something else is a contributing factor to their gender dysphoria. Receiving medical care is done in consultation with therapists who deal with a person’s mental health. But no amount of conversation will make a transgender minor not transgender. Instead, puberty blockers and hormones administered in consultation with medical personnel and informed parental consent save lives.
So what did the Board of Medicine do? They decided that minors should experience puberty that aligns with their reproductive organs even if it makes them suicidal. Is this really the society we want to be? As the parent of a transgender child, I say no. My child is more than his reproductive organs. He’s funny, smart, kind and one of the two greatest joys of my life (the other is his sister).
I thank the heavens above each day for its presence; I love him as he is, which is a transgender person. Both social and medical gender-affirming care saved her life. I’m sad, scared, and angry about the Florida Board of Medicine’s decision. I hope you do too after reading this.
If you would like to comment publicly on the proposed rule, please visit https://www.flrules.org/Gateway/View_notice.asp?id=26536889.
Jen Koslow is a Florida citizen and mother.
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