Florida Senior Judge Robert Hinkle struck down a 2023 Florida law that restricted gender-affirming care for transgender adults and completely blocked such care for children, calling the legislation unconstitutional.

Hinkle declared the statute overstepped the Constitution when it barred transgender minors from access to gender-affirming treatments such as puberty blockers and hormonal therapies, even with permission from their parents. The judge also blocked the state requirement that transgender adults may only receive treatment from a doctor and not a registered nurse or qualified medical practitioner. Finally, Hinkle also removed the ban on transgender adults receiving medical care online.

In his decision, the judge quoted the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., drawing a comparison between individuals who were against equality for women and minorities and individuals who are currently opposing gender-affirming care to the individuals who need it.

In Hinkle’s decision, he wrote, “One transgender opponents invoke religion to support their position, just as some once invoked religion to support their racism or misogyny.” He then described that this is in no way an effort to dictate people’s opinions but that opposing individuals “are not free to discriminate against transgender individuals just for being transgender.”

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) heavily criticized Hinkle’s decision, writing that it was “erroneous” in its statement, along with its vow to appeal.

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

Florida is among at least 25 states that have adopted laws that allow for some restriction on gender-affirming care.

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