Federal Judge Robert Hinkle has ruled this week against the continued implementation of state restrictions in Florida on access to gender-affirming care for minors, although his decision only applies to a small group of young people connected to the lawsuit, who will have restored access to the care they’ve sought. Still, this outcome at the federal level strongly suggests that more legal setbacks to attempts by Florida Republicans to seemingly erase transgender people from public life could be soon coming.
It doesn’t sound like the minors affected by Hinkle’s decision were pursuing surgical procedures, which while part of gender-affirming care are not in any way where it ends. Many Republicans, including elected officials in Florida, have tried to characterize targeting gender-affirming care as just an attempt to protect kids, but the care, which includes psychological and social work besides somatic treatments like hormone therapies, is generally supported by many leading medical organizations. It defies basic logic to assert that there is some kind of conspiracy among these prominent groups to propagate something that is actively harmful to children or any other group.
In his decision, Hinkle accused the Republicans behind the Florida restrictions of essentially just playing politics. He also noted the relevant recent history of antagonism and harassment of transgender individuals. “There has long been, and still is, substantial bigotry directed at transgender individuals,” Hinkle observed, as highlighted in POLITICO’s coverage. “Common experience confirms this, as does a Florida legislator’s remarkable reference to transgender witnesses at a committee hearing as ‘mutants’ and ‘demons.’ And even when not based on bigotry, there are those who incorrectly but sincerely believe that gender identity is not real but instead just a choice.” This case will be continuing.
Elsewhere, Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis is now running for the 2024 Republican nomination for president, although polling suggests Trump will win — by a wide margin, too. Florida’s restrictions on gender-affirming care even limit access for at least some adults, since many institutions are prohibited from using government funding for it. DeSantis in general remains obsessed with combating what he’s called “woke” ideology, which he has struggled to define in any actually meaningful terms when asked. Trump has seemed less interested in obsessing over the concept.