President Biden condemned Florida lawmakers’ push to restrict access to gender-affirming care and laws targeting transgender youth in an interview for Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.
“It’s just terrible what they’re doing” in Florida, Biden told actor and guest host Kal Penn, who previously worked in the Obama administration as the White House’s associate director of public engagement. The segment was part of an “in-depth” interview at the White House.
In the interview, for which preview clips have already been released, Penn asked Biden about his “evolution” on marriage equality and what the federal government can do “to protect LGBTQ Americans, especially trans kids who are dealing with all these regressive state laws right now.”
Biden recounted a story he has told many times throughout his career, in which he was dropped off by his father during his senior year of high school and saw “two well-dressed men in suits” kissing one another.
“I’ll never forget, I turn and looked at my dad. He said, ‘Joey, it’s simple. They love each other.’
“It’s just that simple. It doesn’t matter whether it’s same-sex or a heterosexual couple, you should be able to be married. What is the problem?” Biden said.
“Transgender kids is a really harder thing,” Biden told Penn. “What’s going on in Florida is, as my mother would say, close to sinful.”
Florida’s Department of Health recently issued guidance for doctors and health care providers discouraging them from recommending gender-affirming health treatments, such as hormones or surgery, to transgender minors with gender dysphoria.
The guidance even discourages trans children from “socially transitioning,” which involves no medical interventions, but may include the use of gender-affirming pronouns, names, hairstyles, or clothing.
The department, and its head, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, have also issued a so-called “fact sheet” disputing studies of gender-affirming care, arguing that puberty blockers, hormones, and surgical interventions for trans people are “experimental and investigational,” and not backed up by sufficient research looking into the long-term effects of those treatments.
Additionally, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration recently finalized a revised rule prohibiting health care providers from billing Medicaid for gender-affirming medical treatments — even in cases where the patient is an adult.
In recent years, Florida lawmakers have barred transgender athletes from competing in sports based on their gender identity, and have restricted discussions or content related to gender identity in schools when the information is not “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.” Additional bills are being introduced this year to further beef up the latter law.
Speaking with Penn, Biden dismissed the idea that gender identity or feelings of gender dysphoria are temporary or adopted on a whim.
“It’s not like, you know, a kid wakes up one morning and says, ‘You know, I decided I want to become a man, or I want to become a woman, or I want to change.’ I mean, what are they thinking about? They’re human beings. They love. They have feelings.”
Biden denounced the flurry of anti-LGBTQ legislation in Florida as “cruel.”
“And the way we [protect LGBTQ people] is we make sure we pass legislation, like we passed on same-sex marriage — you mess with that, you’re breaking the law, and you’re going to be held accountable,” Biden said.
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