Florida Republican wants to make life-saving healthcare for trans kids a felony

Florida representative Randy Fine speaks before lawmakers

A Florida Republican has vowed to introduce legislation next session that would criminalise gender-affirming care for trans youth in the state. 

State representative Randy Fine said in a post on social media on Monday (4 April) that he would “shepherd legislation” that would make it illegal for parents and doctors to provide gender-affirming healthcare to trans children. 

He said the bill, which he plans to file next year, would make providing gender-affirming care – including medications and surgeries – to minors “felony child abuse” which would be “punishable by prison and loss of medical license”. 

Fine said the legislation would not “affect mental counseling” for trans youth in Florida. 

Democratic representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, Florida’s first LGBT+ Latino legislator, condemned Fine’s proposal in a statement to Orlando Sentinel

“Florida Republicans are on a dangerous course, retaliating against any person or business who expresses support for the LGBTQ+ community,” Smith said. 

“This latest threat to criminalise parents and doctors who provide life-saving care for LGBTQ youth should shock the conscience of all Floridians.”

State representative Anna Eskamani, a Democrat, also denounced Fine’s legislation in a post on social media. 

She said the proposal was evidence from Florida Republicans that the “entire premise of HB1557”, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, was to “attack the health & well-being of LGBTQ+ youth, who they don’t think should even be able to access medical care w/parental consent”. 

“This policy proposal is dangerous & will harm already marginaliz[ed kids],” Eskamani wrote.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has denounced attempts by legislators to ban “medically necessary” gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth in the US. The leading professional association said that “forgoing gender-affirming care can have tragic health consequences, both mental and physical”. 

The AMA said it was “inappropriate and harmful” for lawmakers to “legislatively dictate that certain transition-related services are never appropriate”, describing such efforts as a “dangerous intrusion into the practice of medicine”.

A study recently published in the journal JAMA Open Network found that young trans people who received gender-affirming healthcare, including hormone therapy and puberty blockers, are significantly less likely to have attempted suicide or become depressed in the following year

Such treatments are associated with 60 per cent lower odds of moderate or severe depression in trans youth over a period of one year, according to the study. The research also found that access to gender-affirming care for trans youth resulted in 73 per cent lower odds of suicidality over the same period. 

A study by the Trevor Project, a US-based LGBT+ suicide prevention organisation, also revealed that giving gender-affirming hormone therapy to trans youth who want it can literally save lives

The study found that young trans people who take gender-affirming hormone therapy are nearly 40 per cent less likely to have been depressed or attempted suicide in the past year when compares to trans youth who want such treatments but don’t receive them.