The Florida legislature passed a bill Thursday that will let the state take transgender minors away from their families if they are receiving gender-affirming care.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 26–13, mainly along party lines, and the House shortly after by a vote of 83–28, again along party lines. The measure now goes to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis, who has previously expressed support for it and will likely sign it into law.
If he signs it into law, the measure 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 any patients under the age of 18 nor refer people to providers that do. Their medical license renewal is contingent upon sending in this attestation.
But the bill also targets trans adults: Only physicians are allowed to offer gender-affirming care (not nurse practitioners). Anyone who violates the law could be charged with a misdemeanor.
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.
“This is not the body that practices medicine, although we love to believe that we can,” Representative Kelly Skidmore said during the debate. “This is the wrong thing to do.”
“This is a bad bill that interferes with parental rights, that interferes with health care rights, and it puts people in danger of not being able to get the care that they need.”
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.
Florida seems to be leading the charge. The measure passed Thursday is one of the cruelest yet. State Republicans have openly admitted they “hate” LGBTQ people and are comfortable with “erasing” the community from existence.