Florida Legislature Passes Bill Banning Gender-Affirming Care for Transgender Minors

The Republican-controlled Florida legislature has passed a bill banning transgender minors from receiving gender-affirming care such as puberty blockers, and has added restrictions for adults seeking care. The bill has been passed to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign it into law.[0] The measure is part of a broader wave of bills targeting the transgender community in the US, with over 100 state bills being introduced in 2023 that aim to restrict access to trans healthcare.

The new Florida bill would let the state take transgender minors away from their families if they are receiving gender-affirming care. It also seeks to restrict the way teachers and students can use their preferred pronouns in schools, a provision that has drawn ire from LGBTQ+ advocacy groups.[1] Another bill passed by the state Senate on Wednesday restricts teachers, faculty, and students from using the pronouns of their choice in public schools.[2] The bill declares that it must be the policy of all schools that “a person’s sex is an immutable biological trait” and “it is false” to use a pronoun other than the sex on a person’s birth certificate.[2]

The legislation has been criticized by Democrats and LGBTQ-rights organizations, who argue that the policies are targeting transgender people. Republicans, however, argue the bills are about protecting “public safety, decency, and decorum.” Democrats fought the bill, arguing it would subject transgender people to harassment and questioning how it would be enforced.[3] On Wednesday, while debating on the floor, the Democratic Senator Tina Polsky stated.[4] The existence of trans individuals is a reality that cannot be denied.[4] Homosexuality is a natural aspect of human existence.[4] You can’t legislate away the gay, as much as you might try.”

In addition to the restrictions on trans healthcare, the bill also prohibits colleges and universities from using funds for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, as Governor Ron DeSantis and his supporters denounce “woke” ideologies.[5] Although Republicans have reduced its range, Democrats remain strongly against the bill, claiming that the measures specifically target transgender individuals. Republicans, however, argue the bill is about protecting “public safety, decency and decorum.”

The legislation has also raised concerns about academic freedom, with a provision that prohibits institutions from spending any resources to “promote, support, or maintain any programs or campus activities” that may be in violation of the Stop WOKE Act.[6] As per the bill, it is prohibited to “distort” significant historical events or teach identity politics in general core classes.[7]

The wave of anti-trans bills has been called “unprecedented” by LGBTQ-rights organizations, with over 100 bills introduced in 2023 that aim to restrict access to trans healthcare. So far, 13 have become law in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Dakota, Utah, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Dakota, and Montana.[8] This has led to concerns that trans youth are being targeted and marginalized, with access to crucial healthcare being denied.

The passing of the Florida bill marks a significant moment in the fight for trans rights, with advocates continuing to push back against these discriminatory policies. The wider implications of these bills and their impact on the LGBTQ+ community remain to be seen, but there are fears that they could lead to increased discrimination and harm against a vulnerable group of people.

0. “Florida passes new bill banning trans people from toilets” PinkNews, 4 May. 2023, https://www.thepinknews.com/2023/05/04/florida-anti-trans-toilet-bill-dont-say-gay/

1. “Florida Republicans pass legislation targeting pronouns, diversity programs” New York Daily News, 5 May. 2023, https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ny-florida-republicans-pass-legislation-targeting-pronouns-diversity-20230504-6psysap4ubembor66iqrxr3vbe-story.html

2. “Florida bills that will alter the lives of transgender people await DeSantis’ signature” CNN, 4 May. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/04/politics/ron-desantis-transgender-bills-florida/index.html

3. “Florida Republicans pass bill targeting transgender bathroom use” POLITICO, 3 May. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/05/03/florida-gop-transgender-bathroom-bill-00095168

4. “Bill Banning Preferred Pronouns Ready for DeSantis Signature” FlaglerLive.com, 3 May. 2023, https://flaglerlive.com/bill-banning-books-expansion/

5. “Florida lawmakers approve bill to prevent colleges, universities spending money on ‘woke’ ideologies” ActionNewsJax.com, 3 May. 2023, https://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/local/florida-lawmakers-approve-bill-prevent-colleges-universities-spending-money-woke-ideologies/I4XEKFJY6RHORPQN5XZ7E5VER4/

6. “Florida just doubled down on the Stop WOKE Act, and the new bill is just as unconstitutional” Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, 3 May. 2023, https://www.thefire.org/news/florida-just-doubled-down-stop-woke-act-and-new-bill-just-unconstitutional

7. “Florida Legislature votes to defund diversity programs” News 13 Orlando, 3 May. 2023, https://www.mynews13.com/fl/orlando/news/2023/05/03/florida-legislature-votes-to-defund-diversity–equity–and-inclusion-programs

8. “Florida Legislature Sends Extreme Gender-Affirming Care Ban to Governor’s Desk” Human Rights Campaign, 4 May. 2023, https://www.hrc.org/press-releases/florida-legislature-sends-extreme-gender-affirming-care-ban-to-governors-desk

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