Florida’s House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would let the state take transgender minors away from their families if they are receiving gender-affirming care.
The measure passed by a vote of 82–31. A previous version of the bill passed the Senate earlier this month by a vote of 27–12, and the amended version now goes back to the other chamber for a final vote. Governor Ron DeSantis has previously expressed support for the bill and will likely sign it into law if it passes.
If it becomes law, the bill will allow the state to take custody of a child if they have been “subjected to or [are] threatened with being subjected to” gender-affirming care, which includes puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy. Florida courts could modify custody agreements from a different state if the minor is likely to receive gender-affirming care in that second state. The text refers to gender-affirming care as “sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures” and qualifies this care as a form of “physical harm.”
Medical facilities would have to give the state Department of Health a signed attestation that they neither provide gender-affirming care to patients nor refer people to providers that do. Their medical license renewal is contingent upon sending in this attestation. Medicaid funds could not be used to pay for gender-affirming care, even though the majority of people do not use Medicaid to pay for such treatments.
Minors who have already begun transitioning will be allowed to continue to do so, but they are no longer allowed to receive care via telehealth, including for prescriptions. Their doctors have to tell them about the “risks” of gender-affirming care, and patients will have to sign an informed consent form, which the ACLU has pointed out often contains misinformation. Doctors who violate any of these new rules could be charged with a felony.
“We’re supposed to be working to keep Floridians healthy, safe, and prosperous. We are not supposed to be here to pass ambiguous bills and take away a child’s ability to be healthy and safe,” said Democrat Rita Harris during the debate.
“Florida ranks fortieth in health care for children. You want to protect children? … And yet here we are, taking away health care from children.”
Republicans across the country have introduced bills targeting gender-affirming care, insisting that by doing so, they are protecting children. Instead, lawmakers are criminalizing LGBTQ people of all ages and putting them at risk of real harm.
And Florida seems to be leading the charge. Republicans have introduced bill after bill targeting LGBTQ people and openly admitted their goal is to erase the community from existence. A little more than an hour earlier, the House passed a bill banning drag performances, which heads to DeSantis’s desk.