Florida House passes bill to criminalize providing gender-affirming care to minors
The House voted 82-31 to OK the measure, which would largely put into law rules approved by the state medical boards. While the Senate has approved the bill, the House made changes, meaning it will have to go back to the Senate for a final vote.
The Florida House on Wednesday approved a measure that would make it a felony to provide gender-affirming care such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers to minors.
The House voted 82-31 to pass the bill (SB 254), which would largely put into law rules approved by the state Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine at the urging of the DeSantis administration. Those rules went into effect last month.
The state Senate approved the bill early this month, but the House made changes, meaning it will have to go back to the Senate for a final vote.
Supporters of the legislation said, in part, that they were trying to protect children. Opponents claim it's a continuation of Gov. Ron DeSantis' targeting of the LGBTQ+ community.
“We have failed to give them the ultimate gender-affirming care,” said Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, sponsor of the House’s version of the measure. “To affirm they are creatures of God made in his image. That they were made the way they are and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.”
Democrats argued that ignoring gender dysphoria in children can be psychologically harmful. They said parents and doctors should make decisions on treatment, not government.
“Trans people are already dealing with the feeling of not feeling wanted, not being accepted, not being loved, not belonging. Do we want to treat them like they are worthless?” said Democratic Rep. Marie Paule Woodson. “This is a territory that we have no right of stepping into.”
Protesters converged on the Capitol this week to fight this bill as well as measures they claim target the LGBTQ+ community on bathroom use and keeping children out of drag shows. The House passed those bills as well on Wednesday. All three proposals were priorities for DeSantis.
As House members debated, protesters shouted against bill sponsor Republican Rep. Randy Fine, chanting, “Racist, sexist, anti-queer, Randy Fine get out of here.”
Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, tried to express the frustration families are feeling about the bill.
“One of my constituents who is the parent of a trans son compared this situation to needing to dial 911 but no one is on the other line anymore,” Eskamani said.
Democrat Rep. Jennifer "Rita" Harris of Orlando was as emphatic as empathetic.
“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,” she said.
“Florida ranks 40th in health care for children. You want to protect children? And yet here we are, taking away health care from children.”
There is an exemption in the legislation for minors already receiving hormone therapy and puberty blockers for gender dysphoria. However, the new law would require medical boards to create rules for such a scenario.
“This is not hateful,” Republican Rep. Chase Tramont of Port Orange said of the bill. “This is not ignoring a segment of society. This is in fact protecting the most vulnerable of our society.”
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