Florida Medical Board Decision Puts Trans Youth in Grave Danger
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 8, 2022, NEW YORK, NY
The sustained and targeted efforts by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to degrade, demonize and systematically erode the rights and dignity of transgender youth and their families has hit a new low. The state’s medical board, whose 14 members were appointed by the governor, voted 6-3 (five were not present) to restrict doctors from providing gender affirming healthcare to minors. This latest move is not only appalling but traumatizing to these already marginalized young people.
Denying medical care to transgender youth cannot simply be viewed as the politicization of queer communities. This action tells transgender adolescents that they don’t have the right to exist. Healthcare is a fundamental right. The freedom to be one’s true authentic self is a human right. Countless studies, research and data have shown that the rates of suicide ideation and attempts, coupled with the physical harm and depression young people are reporting, is at crisis levels.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy raised concern about this issue earlier this year following Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill stating, “we have to consider the impact on the LGBTQ community when we put forth new rules, whether they govern conversations at school or whether they govern the kind of medical care they should be offered.” He added, “LGBTQ youth have a significant higher rate of suicide and mental health concerns”. HMI Director of Counseling & Case Management, Lizzie McAdam, says,
Multiple studies have shown that access to gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary youth has a positive outcome on mental health, including a decrease in depression and suicidality. In one particular study, Tordoff, Wanta, Collin, et al (2022) found that in the 104 TNB youth ages 13-20 years old they surveyed, access to gender-affirming care including puberty blockers and hormones lowered the risk of moderate or severe depression by 60% and lowered the odds of suicidality by 73%. While not as many studies have been conducted on transgender and non-binary children and youth under 18 years old exclusively, research and our observations as a clinical team at HMI would indicate that gender affirming care is lifesaving, creating space for trans youth to feel seen, supported, and taking meaningful steps towards decreasing gender dysphoria which in turn supports mental health.
Doctors take an oath to “do no harm”. The Florida medical board’s actions will ultimately result in irreparable, long-term harm to queer youth—the antithesis of a doctor’s oath—all because of political ambitions by elected officials.
Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) will do all within its power, in hand with other organizations, to speak on behalf and to protect LGBTQIA+ youth, particularly transgender, and their families from any legislation that may be detrimental or fatal. Operating from a core belief that all young people deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential, HMI remains committed to expanding access to medical care, decreasing isolation, and delivering critically needed mental health services to LGBTQIA+ youth and their families, amid the increasing number of political attacks on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Source: Tordoff, D.M., Wanta, J.W., Collin, A., et al. (2022). Mental Health Outcomes in Transgender and Nonbinary Youths Receiving Gender-Affirming Care.JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(2):e220978. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.0978
# # #
For interviews, contact:
HMI Marketing Communications
About Hetrick-Martin Institute
Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) is proud to be the nation’s oldest and largest organization helping gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) youth between the ages of 13 and 24 to reach their full potential. Through a comprehensive package of direct services and referrals, the organization fosters healthy youth development. HMI’s staff promotes excellence in the delivery of youth services and uses its expertise to create innovative programs that other organizations may use as models. HMI serves a diverse community, the vast majority of whom identify as Black or people of color. The youth organization is dedicated to building its approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels, throughout its operations and functions.