Florida faces ‘mass migration’ as trans people flee state in fear of Ron DeSantis’ ‘hateful bills’

Ron DeSantis in front of a tranas flag

Florida is facing “mass migration” following Republican governor Ron DeSantis introducing further anti-LGBTQ+ bills, which have led trans people to create fundraisers in a bid to escape the state.

Chief executive and president of Lake County Pride, Danielle Olivani, has said DeSantis’ torrent of anti-LGBTQ+ laws have led to a “mass migration” out of Florida.

SB 254, which passed the Republican-controlled state senate on 4 May, requires trans adults seeking gender-affirming healthcare to sign a consent form. It also prevents Medicaid, the government healthcare insurer, covering gender affirming care for people of all ages. 

The bill is the latest addition to Florida’s host of anti-LGBTQ+ bills implemented by DeSantis, including a bill banning trans people from toilets that align with their gender, one which bans Pride parades, and another further expansion of the Don’t Say Gay bill, which now prohibits teachers from using trans students’ preferred pronouns. 

In response to the laws, several of the state’s Pride events have been cancelled, but Olivani has refused to bow down to the governor.

During The Daily Beast’s The New Abnormal podcast, Olivani confirmed that Lake County Pride will go ahead but admitted the community “don’t want this to take place”. 

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Olivani added: “Right now, it’s a mixture of apprehension, fear. Yet, I’m hopeful at the same time.”

Trans folk create GoFundMe pages in bid to flee Florida

GoFundMe pages show the extent to which the LGBTQ+ community is looking to flee Florida. 

Sage, a trans women living in Orlando, has hit her goal of $2,500 (approximately £2,000), following DeSantis signing SB 254 into law.

The legislation means she will “no longer be provided medication from my doctor to continue my transition”. 

She added: “On top of that, the new bathroom ban bill, HB 1521, could get me arrested for using a public restroom of the gender I identify with. Due to fear for my own safety and human rights I have decided to try to escape Florida as soon as I possibly can.” 

Another fundraiser, setup by trans woman Violet and her trans cousin Lauren, aims to raise $10,000 (£8,000) to escape DeSantis’ “harmful and hateful bills against trans folk and the wider LGBTQIA+ community”. 

The pair hope to move to New Mexico, which recently issued the country’s first non-binary passport, allowing its citizens to legally identify as their true selves. 

Juliet, a 20-year-old trans women living in Tampa, is another member of the transgender community looking to leave Florida by raising $7,000 (approximately £5,500). 

In asking for public help, she wrote: “Florida grows increasingly hostile toward trans folk, and laws are expanding to prevent people like me receiving life-saving gender-affirming healthcare.”

In response to DeSantis signing a far-reaching anti-drag bill into law – Senate Bill 1438 – the Pride Alliance of the Treasure Coast cancelled their Pridefest event.

News of the LGBTQ+ community looking to leave Florida behind isn’t new. Data released in February, by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, found that 56 per cent of 113 parents surveyed said they considered moving out of the state after the introduction of a damning anti-LGBTQ+ law in March 2022.