A Florida Republican has plans to introduce legislation next year to criminalize providing gender-affirming medical care to transgender minors.
State Rep. Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay) wants to “shepherd legislation” in 2023 that would charge doctors who provide surgery or prescribe drugs that aid in a gender transition with “felony child abuse,” and yank their license to practice.
He said in a tweet earlier this week that the legislation would not prevent mental health counseling for those struggling with gender dysphoria.
“If an adult wants to self-mutilate in pursuit of the fiction they can defy G-d and science, more power to them — as they don’t expect me to pay for it. But no child should be put in the position of making life-altering decisions before they are of the age of majority,” Fine tweeted.
“I can say I’m a porcupine, but that doesn’t make it so,” he continued. “It is time to dispense with this fantasy making women’s sports a joke and our schools into a cesspool.”
It’s unclear how Fine’s proposed ban on medical care has anything to do with transgender participation in sports — other than simply riling up conservative followers who already hold anti-LGBTQ views.
Under a law signed into effect by Gov. Ron DeSantis last year, student-athletes are already barred from competing on sports teams that align with their gender identity.
While similar laws have been blocked in Idaho and West Virginia, and a lawsuit has been filed challenging the law’s constitutionality, no federal judge has issued any injunction preventing Florida from enforcing the law.
Regarding a ban on gender-affirming medical treatments, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association both oppose restrictions on gender-affirming care such as puberty blockers or hormones, reports Politico.
However, most medical guidelines, including the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care, do not recommend gender confirmation surgery for minors. Additionally, all interventions on minors — regardless of whether surgery is pursued — require parental consent.
Fine’s comments indicate that even after the 2022 election, Florida Republicans seem intent on continuing to pander to their conservative base by attacking transgender rights.
Earlier this year, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a “parental rights” bill — dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents — that bars discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity through third grade.
However, several high school students — including two who are suing over the law — say that in practice, the law is being enforced in older grades, with teachers targeting LGBTQ pupils or preemptively censoring them in order to avoid angering parents, who are empowered under the law to sue school districts if they believe their children have been exposed to “inappropriate” material.
State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando) criticized Fine’s proposal on Twitter, tweeting: “[Florida] Republicans once again showing us that the entire premise of HB1557 [the “Don’t Say Gay” bill] was & is to attack the health & well-being of LGBTQ+ youth, who they don’t think should even be able to access medical care with parental consent. This policy proposal is dangerous & will harm already marginalized kids.”
“‘Data indicate that 82% of transgender individuals have considered killing themselves and 40% have attempted suicide, with suicidality highest among transgender youth,'” Eskamani added, quoting a report on the incidence of suicidal ideation among transgender individuals. “Help solve problems, stop creating more of them.”
While several bills similar to the one Fine is promising to introduce have been proposed, only Arkansas and Arizona have moved to restrict certain types of gender-affirming medical care, with Arkansas banning all forms of it and Arizona only banning surgical interventions.
However, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has come out in favor of a similar ban in his state, and has issued an order directing state health and child welfare agencies to investigate families with transgender children who are believed to have received puberty blockers or hormones.
A state judge has since blocked that law from being enforced in response to a lawsuit challenging Abbott’s order.
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