On Friday, the Florida Board of Medicine took a major step toward banning transgender treatments for minors by advancing a proposed rule prohibiting children and teens from receiving hormone therapy and from undergoing gender surgery.
The 15-member board, with only one "no" vote, advanced the proposed rule, thus launching a process that will take several months and elicit feedback from the public.
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, who supports the proposed rule, told reporters that the recommendations are "aligned with the truth."
"By truth, I mean truth in science, in terms of what we actually know versus what people want to happen," Ladapo said, according to FloridaPolitics.com. "I feel like this is a recurring theme. Unfortunately, it is a recurring theme where we are seeing political beliefs overtake scientific reasoning, scientific data."
Children who are struggling with their gender identity, he said, need counseling – not drugs and surgery.
Quentin Van Meter, a pediatric endocrinologist, also supported the proposed rule, telling the board that the number of children who receive transgender treatments is growing.
"This is what we are dealing with. We're dealing with a monumental epidemic of increasing proportions," Van Meter said, according to the Pensacola News Journal. "This is a giant experiment on United States children."
Other countries, including the United Kingdom, Sweden and Finland, are more restrictive on the issue than the United States, he said.
"They found that there was far more harm than any benefit in allowing these children to receive any kind of medical intervention," he said.
Board Chairman David Diamond, an oncologist, said science could change on an issue.
"The bottom line is, just because you think something works, does not mean it works," Diamond said. "The point is … we must continuously assess what we're doing and have the capacity to say maybe what we're doing is wrong. Maybe our beliefs are wrong. Maybe we can listen to the other person on the other side or accept the newer data and potentially make our position a little bit better, a little more refined, to better seek the truth."
This summer, a 17-year-old girl who formerly identified as a transgender boy testified to Florida legislators in favor of further restrictions on transgender treatments. The teen girl, Chloe Cole, said doctors allowed her to have a mastectomy she now regrets. She began transitioning at age 13.
"I really didn't understand all of the ramifications of any of the medical decisions that I was making," she said. "… I was unknowingly physically cutting off my true self from my body, irreversibly and painfully."