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Federal judge hears arguments over Florida's new trans care ban, ruling expected "quickly"
An ongoing lawsuit allowed lawyers to take the minor care ban in S.B. 254 to court quickly. The adult care restrictions are already causing harm as well, per reports.
A federal judge on Friday morning heard arguments over whether to immediately halt enforcement of Florida’s new anti-transgender law banning gender-affirming medical care for minors — a ban that comes with a potential felony charge for a practitioner who violates the law.
Although no timeline for a ruling was given to the lawyers at the hearing, one of those lawyers told Law Dork that U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, a Clinton appointee, said he would move quickly to rule on the request for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction.
The fast-moving court action reflects the extreme nature of the new Florida law, which I covered previously at Law Dork. The law, passed as S.B. 254, followed earlier administrative regulations passed by the state’s medical boards banning care for minors. Because a lawsuit had previously been filed challenging those administrative regulations, Doe v. Ladapo, the plaintiffs were able to quickly move to amend their complaint to include a challenge to S.B. 254 the same day that Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law.
Jennifer Levi, an attorney with GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, argued on Friday morning on behalf of the plaintiffs challenging the regulations and law. Mohammad Jazil, a partner at Holtzman Vogel, defended the state at the hearing.
Levi told Law Dork that she was “optimistic” coming out of the hearing."
“The judge’s questions, as much to the attorney for Florida as to me, reflected that he understands the serious harms these bans are causing to transgender adolescents and the parents who love and support them,” she wrote. “I took it as a positive sign that many of his questions to Florida’s lawyer probed what possible way there is to understand the law as anything other than an effort to harm transgender Floridians.”
She noted, in particular, that Hinkle “indicated that he is likely to issue some order to ensure continuity of care for the Plaintiffs in the case” and “indicated he will move quickly” on the broader request.
In addition to the minor care ban, the new law also makes gender-affirming medical care difficult to obtain for adults — barring non-doctors from providing care, in addition to other restrictions — with misdemeanor criminal penalties possible for providers who break the new law’s restrictions on adult care.
Already, there are reports — last week from Erin Reed at Erin in the Morning and the day after DeSantis signed the bill into law at the Tallahassee Democrat — that the bill is leading to diminished access to adult care.
Although there are not yet any trans adult plaintiffs in Doe v. Ladapo, Levi told Law Dork that the amended complaint does include the adult care provisions within its scope. The adult provisions were not, however, discussed at the hearing, Levi added.
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At Rolling Stone on Wednesday, I wrote more broadly about DeSantis’s decision to push this rash of anti-LGBTQ legislation, with particularly aggressive animus focused at trans people, and the responsibility that media have to cover the legislation and its effects. In addition to WS.B. 254, I also went into some detail about the bathroom bill DeSantis signed into law this week, H.B.
In part, I wrote:
This isn’t about disagreeing on issues. We aren’t all expected to think the same things or make the same decisions about how to live our lives or how to raise our children. This is about his using the law to take away fundamental choices that we all should be free to make for ourselves. And in the latest attacks, DeSantis and his ilk are staking out an even more extremist position — criminalizing certain choices, turning fundamental freedoms into potential prison sentences.
As to the media, I wrote:
News coverage of DeSantis fails us when it fails to highlight his efforts to advance these anti-trans measures — criminalizing trans people for being trans in government (and other) buildings and criminalizing medical professionals for trying to help trans people live their lives.
This is particularly so here, because this is not new. Under DeSantis’s governorship, Florida had already taken the extreme step of barring discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation up to grade three in schools with its “Don’t Say Gay” law — passed as the Parental Rights in Education Act in early 2022. By earlier this year, even the Associated Press felt comfortable referencing DeSantis’s acts as “his agenda targeting the LGBTQ+ community.”
The media fails us when it doesn’t cover these new criminal measures, his established history, and the many other anti-LGBTQ measures he is backing this year — including restricting proper pronoun use in schools, expanding the “Don’t Say Gay” law, creating medical “conscience” exemptions that could restrict LGBTQ care even further, and barring diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at the state’s colleges and universities.
DeSantis is making it very clear that he does not want LGBTQ people or their families in his state —as has his spokesperson, somehow even more directly. As DeSantis still apparently plans to launch a campaign for president, these acts of hate — and their real-world effects on people — must not get lost in the coverage or in our minds.
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