They evidently impressed upon the officials the urgency of taking action, because, according to WKMG, the panel ultimately signed off on a draft rule — favored by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration — that would prohibit doctors from mutilating persons with gender dysphoria under the age of 18.
The medical boards' rule workshop, which took place Friday morning at the Hyatt Regency near the Orlando airport, met to discuss a potential ban on puberty-blockers and genital mutilation for minors. After so-called expert testimonies were given, the floor was opened up to both advocates and critics.
18-year-old Chloe Cole spoke to the horrors of her experience, both transitioning and de-transitioning.
Cole told the board: "At 13, I started taking puberty blockers and testosterone. At 15, I underwent a double mastectomy in which my breasts were removed and my nipples were grafted. And yet, at 16, after years of medically transitioning, I came to realize I severely regretted my transition."
"From a young age I was actually quite a very feminine girl, though I did somewhat model myself after my older brothers," Cole said, suggesting that she began to question her identity after being inundated with "inappropriate content" in "an echo chamber of far-left ideology."
In that echo chamber, Cole indicated the following claims prevailed: "sex and gender are separate, women are inherently victims, men are inherently superior in every way," and children with gender dysphoria need drugs and surgery.
"All of the talk about mental health, self-perception, pronouns and ideology leads me to this question: Why is the mental health epidemic not being addressed with mental health treatment to get at the root causes for why female adolescents like me want to reject their bodies?" asked Cole.
Cole noted that she was not suicidal when she began taking hormones, but doctors nevertheless threatened her parents: "Would you rather have a dead daughter or a living son? ... This is how activists talk."
Cole spelled out the consequence of the doctors' activism: "I want to be a mother someday, and yet I can never naturally feed ... my future children. My breasts were beautiful and now they have been incinerated for nothing. Thank you, modern medicine."
Another female victim, unnamed, explained that after "transitioning," she ceased menstruating and grew facial hair. Although initially "elated," she realized her mental health had not improved as a result of the chemical treatment.
The victim said, "I became more suicidal, more instable. The anxiety became debilitating."
After a suicide attempt, she found religion. Unlike the drugs and chemicals, she said her relationship with Jesus ameliorated her suffering, prompting her to de-transition and accept her "womanhood." She said that after getting off of testosterone, her "mental health improved exponentially."
Six doctors spoke, three of whom spoke in opposition to the draft proposal prohibiting the mutilation of children.
WUSF reported that one of the three doctors opposed to the proposal, Meredithe McNamara, suggested that a "social contagion" is not to blame for the spike in the number of "trans" children and gender clinics.
According to the American Psychological Association, a social contagion is when behaviors, attitudes, and emotions spread like diseases through crowds "and other types of social aggregates," partly as a result of the members' "heightened suggestibility." A social contagion is allegedly sustained by "imitation, conformity, ... and mimicry."
Instead of a social contagion, said McNamara, a Yale School of Medicine professor, the reason is that "we live in a more forgiving and nurturing environment than we did 20 years ago ... there are trans and non-binary role models, people who are trailblazing and showing young people it's safe to be who they are."
Michael Biggs, a professor of sociology and fellow of St Cross College, submitted research to the committee outlining how puberty suppression is suspected to reinforce gender dysphoria. Biggs referenced studies showing that puberty blockers: sterilize children; negatively impact their mental health; lower bone density; and render them incapable of having orgasms later as adults.
Michael Laidlaw, a California-based endocrinologist suggested there is a dearth of "high quality evidence" to substantiate claims about positive outcomes from gender mutilations, and likened attempts to transition to forcing a square peg in a round hole.
Laidlaw, like Biggs, emphasized in the materials he submitted the destructive nature of puberty blockers, noting that in males they not only sterilize and stunt the growth of sexual organs, but also disrupt normal brain development. He indicated that puberty blockers leave girls in a "Menopause like state," similarly disrupting brain development and adversely impacting bone growth.
Blaise Trettis, a public defender, said that minors are not "emotionally or psychologically capable of making that lifelong decision."
Rules and guidance
WKMG reported that the Florida Board of Medicine voted in August to open the rule-making process concerning state guidelines as they pertain to gender dysphoria treatments.
The panel signed off on the draft rule to bar doctors from mutilating or chemically sterilizing kids for the purpose of cosmetically altering their gender. It will go to a vote before the full board on Nov. 4.
As they now stand, the Florida Department of Health's guidelines concerning gender dysphoria are as follows:
- "Social gender transitions should not be a treatment option for children or adolescents";
- "Anyone under 18 should not be prescribed puberty blockers or hormone therapy";
- "Gender reassignment surgery should not be a treatment option for children or adolescents";
- "Based on currently available evidence, 'encouraging mastectomy, ovariectomy, uterine extirpation, penile disablement, tracheal shave, the prescription of hormones which are out of line with the genetic make-up of the child, or puberty blockers, are all clinical practices which run an unacceptably high risk of doing harm'"; and
- "Children and adolescents should be provided social support by peers and family and seek counseling from a licensed provider."