A U.S. District Court judge has granted a partial injunction stopping Florida from enforcing its ban on the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones in minors, asserting in his ruling that the motivation for the law was “bigotry.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis, R, signed the bill in May banning surgical interventions or the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones in children in order to attempt to change their sex. The law codified the decision previously made by the Florida Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine.
The ruling by Judge Robert Hinkle only applies to three children. However, he believes that the law is unconstitutional and motivated by transphobia. The judge made it clear that he takes the position that gender identity is real, ruling:
“There has long been, and still is, substantial bigotry directed at transgender individuals. Common experience confirms this… 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.”
The parents of the three children who brought the case claimed that the legislature failed to demonstrate any rational basis for the bans. Hinkle agreed, saying, “There are risks attendant to not using these treatments, including the risk — in some instances, the near certainty — of anxiety and depression and even suicidal ideation. The challenged statute ignores the benefits that many patients realize from these treatments and the substantial risk posed by foregoing the treatments.”
State Rep. Randy Fine, R, a co-sponsor of the law, tweeted,
“It’s clear that Democrat Judge Hinkle is a science-denying wokeist whose radical order will soon be overturned by jurists who actually believe in science. We will not stop fighting to defend children from those like Hinkle who support child castration and mutilation.”
DeSantis’s press secretary Jeremy Redfern said, “We obviously disagree with the judge’s ruling. We will continue fighting against the rogue elements in the medical establishment that push ideology over evidence and protect against mutilating our kids.”
Hinkle is expected to issue a ruling in a separate case with all indications pointing to him blocking the law.
If that happens, Florida will almost certainly appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
This ruling is not that of an impartial judge but a person who has taken an ideological stance on this issue.
Two additional statements show that Hinkle believes that all Florida legislators and the state Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine were motivated by bigotry rather than the desire to prevent confused children from becoming yet another patient harmed by these drugs and surgeries.
“I find that the plaintiff’s ability to evaluate the benefits and risks of treating their individual children this way far exceeds the ability of the State of Florida to do so,” he wrote. “I find that the plaintiffs’ motivation is love for their children and the desire to achieve the best possible treatment for them. This is not the State’s motivation.”
Hinkle further stated, “In a ‘fact sheet,’ the Florida Department of Health asserted social transitioning, which involves no medical intervention at all, should not be a treatment option for children or adolescents. Nothing could have motivated this remarkable intrusion into parental prerogatives other than opposition to transgender status itself.”
This shows either Hinkle’s ignorance of the wider study of social transitions or intentional omission. England’s National Health Service (NHS) has warned that most of the time “gender incongruence does not persist into adolescence” and has stated that even social transitions “may have significant effects on the child or young person in terms of their psychological functioning.”
Hinkle’s response to arguments about the risks of puberty blockers and hormones is also false. He ruled, “It is no answer to say the evidence on the yes side is weak when the evidence on the no side is weaker or nonexistent. … A decision for the three patients at issue cannot wait for further or better research; the treatment decision must be made now.”
The FDA has admitted that puberty blockers could cause neurological issues. Puberty blockers decrease bone density in minors. Other studies have found they cause sexual dysfunction and scores of other problems. And rather than help a child’s mental health, Oxford Professor Dr. Michael Biggs found that children who received these treatments at England’s since-shut down Tavistock Clinic “reported greater self-harm with these particular medications, and girls exhibited greater emotional problems and dissatisfaction with their bodies.”
What those like Hinkle ignore is that a child’s current distress over their sex usually follows previous mental health problems and trauma. They ignore the testimony of de-transitioners, testimony that the state Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine heard before making their decision to ban these procedures. Those witnesses detailed the long list of medical and mental health issues they experienced after undergoing these experimental treatments, and the failure of their doctor or therapist to take time to even consider their other mental health concerns.
Jurist William Blackstone, who authored the Commentaries on the Laws of England, arguably the single most influential piece of jurisprudence on the American legal system, famously wrote that a judge is to decide the law “not according to his own private judgment but according to the known laws and customs of the land.”
It is known law and custom that the government is able to make laws restricting parental rights when those laws are designed to protect children from harm. A parent cannot demand, for example, that a doctor give their child a lobotomy nor can a parent override the law and give permission for their child to become an online porn performer. It doesn’t matter if the child is convinced this would be beneficial; as a society, we put restrictions on what children are exposed to or allowed to do for their own good, and one of those restrictions is that doctors and parents can’t perform or push unproven, irreparable medical experiments on physically healthy children.
Proverbs 24:23-25 states,
“These also are sayings of the wise.
To show partiality in judgment is not good.
He who says to the wicked, ‘You are righteous,’
Peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him;
But to those who rebuke the wicked will be delight,
And a good blessing will come upon them.”
Judges have a duty to rule impartially and righteously. This ruling is unjust and should be overturned.
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.