Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

DeSantis confident 11th Circuit will overturn transgender care ruling on appeal

FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis answers questions from the media, March 7, 2023, at the state Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. DeSantis spent more than an hour talking about what is in the $116.5 billion he signed Wednesday, June 12, 2024, but he left out the most important part of the announcement: What was in the nearly $1 billion he vetoed. (AP Photo/Phil Sears, File)
Phil Sears
Citing a decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in a similar Alabama case, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says it’s possible the reversal on Florida’s law could come quickly.

Noting that the appeals court recently tossed a similar ruling in Alabama, the governor says it's the state’s duty to protect children and to stand up for laws passed by elected legislators.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says there is “no question” the state will win its appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that struck down a Florida law that blocked gender-affirming care for minors.

And he defended the decision to appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has already overturned a law in Alabama “that is almost identical to Florida’s law.”

“If you’re not willing to defend Florida’s duly elected statutes against liberal jurisprudence, then you’re basically saying the people of Florida shouldn’t govern themselves and that we should turn over our destiny to some trial judge somewhere," DeSantis said Wednesday during a news conference in Tampa to discuss Florida’s budget. "That, I refuse to do.”

On Tuesday, U.S. Judge Robert Hinkle, who was appointed to the bench by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1996, ruled that transgender people are constitutionally entitled to treatments they need. In doing so, he tossed out the 2023 law SB 254, which also restricted care for transgender adults.

DeSantis again questioned the necessity of such treatments, noting that it’s the state’s duty to protect “the innocence of these kids” and to stand up for laws passed by elected legislators.

“It’s wrong to mutilate minors. It is wrong to perform a sex-change on a 16-year-old. You’re not allowed to get a tattoo, but somehow you can have your privates cut off. Give me a break,” DeSantis said.

Gender-affirming care for minors diagnosed with gender dysphoria is supported by all major U.S. medical and mental health associations. Hinkle heard testimony in support of the treatments from experts in psychiatry, endocrinology, medical ethics and pediatric medicine.

Those experts — and Hinkle’s ruling — have said that such surgeries on minors are extremely rare.

“You use the term ‘gender-affirming care,’ which is what media uses and what the left uses,” said DeSantis, a Republican who easily won reelection in 2022. “You’re not affirming that. You’re trying to change their basic biology, which you cannot do, OK. … How you are born is what you are.

"I think it's about, 'Are we going to be rooted in truth as a society or not?' and if we're rooted in truth, then you would say, 'Of course, you can't do these surgeries because it's not going to take and transform somebody that's a male into a female.' ”

At least 25 states have adopted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming care for minors, and most of those states face lawsuits. The only other one to be struck down so far as unconstitutional is the ban in Arkansas, which the state has appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Advocates are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block Tennessee’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors. And judges’ orders are in place temporarily blocking enforcement of a ban in Montana and aspects of the ban in Georgia.

In January, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit allowed Alabama to enforce a 2022 law that bans gender-affirming care for minors. A preliminary injunction had blocked enforcement of the law. The full court has yet to decide whether it will revisit the issue.

Citing that decision, DeSantis said it’s possible the reversal on Florida’s law could come quickly.

“I am not going to turn over the destiny of this state to liberal judges,” he said.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Copyright 2024 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

I’m the online producer for Health News Florida, a collaboration of public radio stations and NPR that delivers news about health care issues.