Florida governor says he’d ban vital gender-affirming surgeries for trans youth

Just 11 young trans athletes played sports in Florida. Now, they're banned

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has said that he would “for sure” sign legislation banning gender-affirming surgeries for young trans people if it ever landed on his desk.

DeSantis told conservative news organisation Daily Caller that he is “very much opposed” to gender-affirming treatment such as surgeries for trans minors, which he referred to “chemical castration”.

The Republican admitted he “didn’t know” such gender-affirming treatments “existed until a few years ago”, but said a bill outlawing them “would be something I would sign for sure”.

A bill that would have criminalised doctors and healthcare practitioners who gave vital gender-affirming treatments to trans minors died in committee in April. The Youth Gender and Sexual Identity Act would have banned “performing surgeries that sterilise” trans youth as well as “performing a mastectomy”.

The legislation would have also criminalised healthcare workers who administered, prescribed or supplied crucial puberty-blocking medication, testosterone or estrogen to trans youth.

A similar bill died in the health quality subcommittee of the Florida House in 2020.

Ron DeSantis’ statements came only a week after he signed a bill banning trans youth from participating on school sports teams – making Florida the seventh state this year to enact such legislation. DeSantis told the Daily Caller that the bill allegedly provided a “level playing field” between trans athletes and their cisgender counterparts.

However, such rhetoric has been disavowed by LGBT+ groups, activists and athletes.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has previously offered its “unequivocal” support to trans athletes, but has been criticised for failing to live up a statement suggesting that it would only host its championships in states where trans athletes can participate in school sports.

DeSantis told the Daily Caller that pressure from “woke” corporations reinforced his decision to sign the sports bill into law. He said other lawmakers that listened to the concerns of other organisations are turning “over the reins of government” to these groups.

“That ain’t happening in Florida,” DeSantis said.

Ron DeSantis has furthered his moves against the LGBT+ community by cutting $900,000 in funding for state programmes serving the community. These cuts included $150,000 for the Orlando United Assistance Center at LGBT Center Orlando. The funding would have gone towards crucial mental health counselling for survivors of the horrific Pulse nightclub massacre.

He also cut $750,000 in funding to the Zebra Coalition which helps LGBT+ youth facing homelessness, bullying and abuse in Florida.

Brandon Wolf, media relations manager for Equality Florida and survivor of the Pulse massacre, said DeSantis “has declared war on Florida’s LGBTQ community”. He recalled that DeSantis had promised him that “he would always support those of us impacted” by the massacre at the 2019 remembrance ceremony.

“Today, almost two years later to date, he vetoed mental health services for us. I will never forget,” Wolf said.