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Federal Judge Blocks Florida’s Ban on Transgender Care for Adolescents

“Gender identity is real,” District Judge Robert Hinkle wrote.

(Alex Menendez/AP/File via CNN Newsource)

(CNN) — A federal district court has blocked Florida from enforcing a law that bans medical care for transgender children, calling it “unconstitutional.”

“Gender identity is real,” District Judge Robert Hinkle wrote, going on to say Florida’s law banning care for transgender youth and restricting it for transgender adults violates their equal protection rights.

The 2023 law, passed by Florida’s Republican-led legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, prohibits doctors and nurses from prescribing medication, including hormones or puberty blockers, to anyone under 18.

“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,” the order states.

The transgender plaintiffs and their parents argued the law violated their constitutional rights.

In a 105-page order, Hinkle agreed, writing: “Whether based on morals, religion, unmoored hatred, or anything else, prohibiting or impeding a person from conforming to the person’s gender identity rather than to the person’s natal sex is not a legitimate state interest.”

The order does not address the state law’s ban on gender-affirming surgery for minors or surgery restrictions for adults as the lawsuit did not challenge those provisions, Hinkle noted.

Simone Chriss, transgender rights initiative director at the nonprofit Southern Legal Counsel law firm, called the move “a victory for the state of Florida” in a statement.

“The federal court saw Florida’s transgender minor healthcare ban and adult restrictions for what they are—discriminatory measures that cannot survive constitutional review,” Chriss said. “Today’s ruling blocks the state of Florida’s cruel campaign to deny fundamental rights and basic healthcare to its transgender citizens.”

In a statement following the order, DeSantis’ office said the state will appeal the ruling.

“Through their elected representatives, the people of Florida acted to protect children in this state, and the Court was wrong to override their wishes,” the statement said.

“We disagree with the Court’s erroneous rulings on the law, on the facts, and on the science. As we’ve seen here in Florida, the United Kingdom, and across Europe, there is no quality evidence to support the chemical and physical mutilation of children. These procedures do permanent, life-altering damage to children, and history will look back on this fad in horror.”

CNN has reached out to the Florida Department of Health for comment.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

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