Florida just became the eighth state to restrict transgender care for minors, and protesters are not happy. This proposed ban was signed off on and approved by the Florida Senate on Tuesday. And it prohibits surgeries, prescription treatments such as puberty blockers or hormone therapy, and more for children diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
This bill, SB 254, applies to anyone under the age of 18, and it also bans “universities, local governments, the health insurance plans for state workers and providers contracted with the state’s Medicaid Managed Care program” from using public dollars to cover the treatments. It could also lead to felony charges for doctors who provide treatments to minors.
What is being described as the “Republican-controlled” Senate voted 27-12 to pass the bill.
Republican senator and sponsor of this bill, Clay Yarborough, said, “We need to let kids be kids, and our laws need to set appropriate boundaries that respect the rights and responsibilities of parents by protecting children from the very serious health and safety concerns associated with these treatments… the idea that someone’s worth and dignity could come through prescriptions or surgeries could not be more untrue.”
However, Senator Lori Berman, a Democratic member of the Florida State Senate, expressed that “this state should not be stepping in to override parents’ decisions about healthcare for their children. The bill strips Florida parents of the right to follow the evidence-based advice of healthcare providers to provide the best care for their transgender child.”
Senate Democrats even brought up testimonies from people who spoke against the bill, saying that it has led some transgender children to consider suicide. And Senator Shevrin Jones, the first Black openly gay legislator in the state, said, “Transgender children think the Legislature has rejected who they are.”
This bill includes an exemption for children that are currently receiving puberty blockers or hormone therapy, but it also requires the medical boards to create rules for these children already receiving the treatment. And although this bill does not fully affect adults, the bill would prevent the use of telehealth in providing treatments.
A Florida mother of her 14-year-old son expresses what this could mean for the mental health of transgender youths all around Florida: “My son was finally getting to a place where he felt hopeful, where being prescribed testosterone was on the horizon and he could see a future for himself in his own body, but that has been ripped away by this discriminatory rule… I am so worried about the impact that lack of access to medical treatment will have on my child. It is every parent’s worst nightmare to have to worry about the unthinkable.”