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Federal Judge Rules Florida’s Sex Reassignment Law is Unconstitutional

Judge Robert L. Hinkle: ‘Gender identity is real’

Federal Judge Rules Florida’s Sex Reassignment Law is Unconstitutional

A federal district judge has ruled that Florida’s Treatments for Sex Reassignment law is unconstitutional.

Judge Robert L. Hinkle of the Federal District Court in Tallahassee ruled against key components of the law, stating that it prohibited parents from making medical decisions on behalf of children who identify as transgender.

Among other things, SB-254, which was approved in May of last year by Gov. Ron DeSantis, permitted state courts to take temporary emergency jurisdiction over children who were “subjected to or … threatened with being subjected to sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures.”

The law banned all minors from receiving sex-reassignment procedures or prescriptions and made it a criminal offense for health care practitioners to provide those services.

“The elephant in the room should be noted at the outset,” Hinkle wrote in a 105-page ruling on Tuesday. “Gender identity is real. The record makes this clear. The defendants … have admitted it. At least one defense expert also has admitted it.”

“Despite the defense admissions,” he continued, “there are those who believe that cisgender individuals properly adhere to their natal sex and that transgender individuals have inappropriately chosen a contrary gender identity, male or female, just as one might choose whether to read Shakespeare or Grisham. Many people with this view tend to disapprove all things transgender and so oppose medical care that supports a person’s transgender existence.”

Citing quotes from state house lawmakers who supported a version of the legislation, Hinkle said, “the sponsors’ purpose, at least in part, was to prevent individuals from pursuing their transgender identities.”

After quoting one lawmaker, who said the “truth is there’s no such thing as someone being able to change their sex,” the judge said, “This completely misunderstands gender identity.” He went one to suggest discussions of “castration and mutilation” were “just political hyperbole.”

In his conclusion, Hinkle acknowledged that some restrictions in the law were constitutional, while others – which prohibit children who had reached Tanner Stage II of development from receiving “gender-affirming care” – are unconstitutional.

The judge, who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton, also stated in his ruling that denying the reality of a person’s transgender identity is “not different in kind or intensity from the animus that has attended racism and misogyny.”

Thomas Redburn, who represented the plaintiffs in the case, heralded the judgment as a win.

“Today’s ruling affirms the principle that individuals should be able to make informed decisions about their own personal medical treatments without discrimination by the State,” he said, per POLITICO.

One plaintiff listed as Jane Doe said the ruling would prevent her from having to watch her daughter “needlessly suffer because I can’t get her the care she needs.”

“Seeing [her] fear about this ban has been one of the hardest experiences we’ve endured as parents,” she added. “All we’ve wanted is to take that fear away and help her continue to be the happy, confident child she is now.”

In a statement to Forbes, DeSantis’ press secretary Jeremy Redfern said the state will appeal “the Court’s erroneous rulings on the law, on the facts, and on the science.”

“Florida will continue to fight to ensure children are not chemically or physically mutilated in the name of radical, new age ‘gender ideology,’” he added.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article mistakenly referred to Hinkle as Levine. 

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