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This trans town hall aimed to combat misinformation about LGBTQ laws, and celebrate wins

 Gina Duncan of Equality Florida, and Nathan Bruemmer, president of the  Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus, presented at transgender town hall meetings held in Tampa and St. Petersburg this week, organized by TransNetwo
Daylina Miller
WUSF Public Media
Gina Duncan of Equality Florida, and Nathan Bruemmer, president of the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus, presented at transgender town hall meetings held in Tampa and St. Petersburg this week, organized by TransNetwork, Inc.

A group including transgender advocates, health care professionals, and attorneys gathered recently for town hall meetings in Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Sandwiched between two trans flags on either side of the stage, Gina Duncan of Equality Florida and Nathan Bruemmer, an attorney and president of the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus, spoke at the second of two trans town hall meetings Thursday night at the Allendale United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg.

The town halls, held in Tampa and St. Petersburg this week, were presented by TransNetwork, Inc., a trans-led and Tampa Bay-based organization organizing a network of resources to help support, empower and care for the trans and gender expansive community.

QUEER SPACES: Events and meet-ups to showcase queer joy and stories of hope and resilience

The town halls came just as the Human Rights Campaign declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the United States for the first time in its more than 40-year history.

The majority of the town hall was spent recapping six laws that have already gone into effect, or will on July 1.

Here’s the breakdown

HB 1069 – The expansion of the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law extends the existing complete ban on classroom education on sexual orientation and gender identity through eighth grade. Education for grades 9-12 must be “age appropriate.” The bill also denies teachers from asking a student’s pronouns and stops teachers from providing their pronouns. It also expands book bans by allowing anyone in the county who objects to school materials on certain grounds to remove those materials from all children until the complaint is resolved.

SB 254 – This law alter allows for altering of state custody laws over existing custody agreements from out-of-state to favor an unsupportive parent over another parent seeking gender-affirming care for their child; threaten doctors with jail time for providing medically supported gender-affirming care to transgender children; and restricts transgender adults’ access to care by limiting their access to telehealth and only allowing medical doctors and doctors of osteopathic medicine to provide care, despite 80% of the care in the state previously being offered by nurse practitioners and physicians assistants.

HB 1521 - This requires people to use the restroom of their sex assigned at birth, but only in public and private schools, correctional facilities, and any government-owned or leased building, which could include city hall, airports, and convention centers.

SB 1438 – The so-called “anti-drag bill” allows authorities to fine, revoke liquor licenses, and even shut down establishments for hosting certain drag performances. Florida law already prohibits exposing minors to shows considered sexually explicit or harmful.

SB 1580 – The “Medical Conscience” law allows health care providers and insurers to deny a patient certain forms of care on the basis of religious, moral, or ethical beliefs about those health care services. It also bars medical boards from disciplining doctors for spreading misinformation.

SB 266 - This law targets diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at all state colleges and universities and prohibits institutions from spending tax dollars on them and limits how race is taught in higher education.

Finding hope

Bruemmer told the audience of more than 100 that as difficult as it was to hear about the bills that did pass and were signed into law, there’s still cause to celebrate the wins.

Here’s some of the provisions removed from several bills:

  • restrictions to access on all public restrooms 
  • a prohibition to birth certificate changes to align with gender identity
  • A prohibition on all private insurance coverage for gender-affirming care
  • detransition of minors currently receiving gender-affirming care
  • ban of specific majors like queer studies and women’s/gender studies 
  • censorship defamation bill regarding allegations of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia against public officials
  • flag ban bill prohibiting pride flags in all government buildings

Resources for trans people

National Transgender Lifeline Crisis Line (Staffed by Transgender Individuals) — 1-877-565-8860 http://www.translifeline.org/

Crisis Help: The Trevor Project — 24-Hour Telephone 866-488-7386 http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

PFLAG — Ally-LGBTQ+ connecting group for LGBTQ+ people and their family/friends/peers. https://linktr.ee/transkidsmatter

The Fitzlane Project | https://www.thefitzlaneproject.org/ | Trans owned. The FitzLane Project provides access to LGBTQIA+ specialized mental health services necessary to empower underprivileged transgender youth to embrace their authentic selves and have the tools needed to succeed in their everyday lives.

Found Family Collective - Holds LGBTQ+ event spaces, events, including self-defense courses. https://www.eventbrite.com/o/found-family-collective-59081152213

Queer Expressions — Group hosting LGBTQ+ groups and events, including a clothing swap and peer support. https://www.eventbrite.com/o/queer-expression-st-pete-42425865643

TransSocial — name and gender marker change guidance. Case management — Provide referrals to trans-competent health care and mental health care providers, along with trans-friendly public accommodations and services such as hairstylists, barbers, dentists, realtors, retail stores, and online vendors.

List of Resources in Florida hosted by Campaign for Southern Equality, Equality Florida, & Southern Legal Counsel, including advice on legal impacts of the bills https://southernequality.org/FLResources/

I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.