Florida legislators send ‘extraordinarily dangerous’ trans healthcare ban to Ron DeSantis’ desk

Two people stand amid a protect in Florida holding up a sign reading 'give trans kids happy futures' as the state rolls back access to gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth

Florida lawmakers have passed an “extraordinarily dangerous” bill banning gender-affirming healthcare for trans minors and restricting such treatments for adults. 

The Florida state legislature passed a bill that prohibits doctors from providing gender-affirming healthcare – including puberty blockers or hormone therapy – to trans youth on Thursday (4 May). Doctors who violate the bill could face the loss of their licence and potential criminal penalties. 

The GOP-controlled Florida House voted 83-28 to pass SB 254 on Thursday (4 May0, after the state Senate, which also has a Republican majority, approved the bill in a 27-12 vote last month.

It now heads to Republican governor Ron DeSantis’ desk, who has backed trans healthcare bans in the past.

SB 254 would require trans adults seeking gender-affirming healthcare to sign a consent form. It would also prevent Medicaid from covering such healthcare for trans people of all ages. 

Additionally, the bill would bar government entities, Florida’s group health insurance programme and public universities from using state funds to cover trans healthcare. 

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Doctor Marci Bowers, president of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), said the bill created a “chilling effect on the medical community by inserting politics into healthcare”. 

“This ban threatens health care providers with criminal penalties simply for doing their jobs, and will make it even harder for transgender and gender diverse people to obtain essential health care,” Bowers said.

“Let me be clear, the medical community is united in endorsing gender-affirming care as safe, effective and necessary care. Health care providers follow best practices based on science and research, and there’s no place for misinformation or extreme ideology in our work.”

Bowers said Florida politicians are acting in “direct contradiction to decades of research that show the mental and physical health benefits of gender-affirming care”. 

Studies overwhelmingly show that trans people who have access to gender-affirming treatment are significantly less likely to experience depression and anxiety and consider suicide than those who are barred from such treatments. 

Further research found trans youth who had access to hormone therapy reported an increase in positive emotions, life satisfaction and self-confidence

Florida governor Ron DeSantis – who has supported bills that would ban gender-affirming healthcare in the state – wears a white shirt, blue tie and dark jacket as he stares out into the distance
It’s expected that Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who has supported trans healthcare bans in the past, will sign SB 254 into law. (Getty)

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) slammed the bill as a move by Florida politicians to gain the “unprecedented ability to strip parental rights from parents who support their transgender children”. 

Under SB 254, a court can grant a “temporary emergency jurisdiction” over a child if they have been “subjected to or if threatened with being subjected” to gender-affirming healthcare. 

The bill treats such healthcare measures, which are supported by a host of respected healthcare organisations as being best medical practice, as it would in the case of child abuse. 

Cathryn Oakley, HRC’s state legislative director and senior counsel, said the bill is “extraordinarily dangerous and extreme”. 

Oakley added: “This bill doesn’t even pretend to be responsible public policy – instead, it attacks the ability of people of all ages to access medically-necessary health care simply because those people are transgender; it prevents parents from being able to access best-practice, potentially life-saving health care supported by the entire American medical establishment on behalf of their children; it prevents health care providers from delivering best-practice medical care; and it even threatens to overturn out-of-state custody determinations.” 

DeSantis has a host of anti-LGBTQ+ bills sitting on his desk, including a bill banning trans people from toilets that align with their gender and another further expanding the state’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill to prohibit teachers from using trans students’ pronouns. 

It’s expected that DeSantis will sign them into law. 

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