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DeSantis' speech highlights a ban on transgender surgery for minors

Florida State of the State
Phil Sears
Chloe Cole, center, is recognized by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a joint session for his State of the State speech Tuesday, Mar. 7, 2023 at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. At left, is Florida first lady Casey DeSantis. Cole received puberty blockers when she was 13, and underwent a double mastectomy at 16. Now she is an advocate against allowing those procedures on children.

Gov. Ron DeSantis touted a recent ban on gender-affirming surgery for minors on Tuesday during his State of the State address.

The Florida Board of Medicine recently banned transgender surgery, hormone therapy and puberty blockers for children.

“It’s sad that we have to say this, but our children are not guinea pigs for science experimentation," DeSantis said during his address to House and Senate lawmakers, who convened on Tuesday for the regular 60-day lawmaking session.

DeSantis recognized a young woman named Chloe Cole, who had a double mastectomy when she was 16 years old and started taking puberty blockers at age 13. "She's now an advocate against these kinds of procedures for children."

Cole, who's now an adult, spoke with WFSU News after DeSantis’ State of the State speech. She says she believes Florida is leading the way on rules regarding transitioning for minors.

“Personally, I don’t think that children should ever be allowed to transition," Cole said. "I think it should be an adult decision, and there needs to be a better model of care for [gender] dysphoric patients.”

Tallahassee Democratic Rep. Gallop Franklin, who’s a pharmacist, says he mostly agrees with the governor’s push to ban transgender surgeries, puberty blockers and hormone therapy for minors.

“When we’re talking about invasive surgeries like a double mastectomy, those things I believe should absolutely not be done to a minor," Franklin said. He's not against the state allowing doctors to prescribe puberty blockers or hormone therapy to minors in some cases, he said. "There’s times when there’s a medical indication that might require you to have to take testosterone.”

Families of transgender children have spoken out against the state’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors. They argue gender-affirming surgery and hormone therapy are potentially life-saving treatments for youths suffering from gender dysphoria.

Valerie Crowder hosts and produces state and local newscasts during All Things Considered. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.