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Tampa Bay mother and her transgender daughter leaving Florida due to new rules

"It really hurts my heart because I know this is going to do nothing but cause harm," Heather St. Amand said.

TAMPA, Fla. — A new rule barring gender affirming care for minors has taken effect in Florida.

Transgender children may not seek treatments including receiving hormone or puberty blockers under a decision made by Florida health leaders last fall.

Heather St. Amand has lived in the Tampa Bay area almost her whole life, but now, she feels leaving the state is the best decision for her family. 

"For my daughter, if she hadn't received gender affirming care when she did, I don't know that she would still be here," St. Amand said.

St. Amand said the treatments saved her daughter's life after struggles with her mental well-being.

However, she no longer feels Florida is safe for her daughter under new restrictions prohibiting gender-affirming care and other proposed bills impacting transgender people.

Medical providers breaking the new rule taken into effect may lose their licenses. However, a new bill would also charge them with a third-degree felony if passed.

Minors already being treated for gender dysphoria will be grandfathered in and may still receive care. 

The DeSantis administration and supporters of the changes argue this is about protecting children. The Florida boards of medicine who approved the new rule said there isn't enough research.

"These people want to make you believe that kids should have sex organs removed and receive completely experimental therapies that are very risky," Ladapo said.

However, their recent actions go against federal guidance.

In addition, the American Academy of Children and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), American Academy of Pediatrics and the Cleveland Clinic generally agree on the effectiveness of gender-affirming care.

"It's life saving for so many people. So it really hurts my heart because I know this is going to do nothing but cause harm," St. Armand said of recent actions taken by the state.  

Several other bills would change the way pronouns are used in schools to employer coverage of gender-affirming care for adults. 

Courts may also take away custody from parents in order to prevent a child from receiving gender-affirming care out of state under a proposed bill.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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