The Florida Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine voted 6-3 on Friday to formalize the language of new rules that would severely restrict access to puberty blockers and hormone therapy for transgender youth under 18.
The rules, when implemented, would effectively freeze gender-affirming care for minors in the state, barring young Floridians who are not already receiving such care from accessing blockers or hormone therapy.
However, the joint committee (from which five members were absent) was divided on an exception allowing doctors to prescribe the drugs “under the auspices of investigator-initiated clinical trials approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB)” organized in some state medical schools. The Board of Medicine voted to eliminate the exception, while the Board of Osteopathic Medicine voted to keep it, creating divergent standards of care. If passed, doctors of osteopathic medicine will be allowed to provide treatment to new patients in trials, unlike conventional doctors.
The rules – which were originally approved in principle in October, pending specific wording – will now enter a 21-day public comment period before continuing the ratification process, which may involve multiple rounds of review and public comments. (The proposed rules were not yet posted on the Florida Administrative Code public list at the time of this writing.)
The meeting was broadcast chaotically over an unstable connection from a Holiday Inn near Disney World, which made it difficult to decipher the developments as they happened. Public opinion seemed strongly opposed to the rules and the debates were frequently interrupted by boos from the participants. Among those who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting was Democratic Rep. Anna V. Eskamani, who condemned corporate boards for using “discredited, biased and compromised” experts to advance a political agenda of blocking free access to health care.
“If you’re going to do this four days before a major election, also know that the Florida Republican Party is spamming the entire state with anti-queer mailers and ads,” Eskamani said, referring to GOP-funded ads from Florida. and far-right lobby groups focused on the re-election of incumbent Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. “We are not here today on the Friday before November 8 by chance,” Eskamani pointed out. “It’s 2022, not the 1970s. I expect the Legislature to be a political being, not the Board of Medicine.