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Florida Republican lawmaker proposes law erasing transgender identities

Florida Republican lawmaker proposes law erasing transgender identities

Beyond the discriminatory nature of the bill, LGBTQ+ advocates say the legislation threatens the ability to even document violence against the community.

A Florida Republican lawmaker wants the state to disavow any recognition of transgender identity.

In one of the most sweeping anti-trans bills filed in the country, Florida state Rep. Dean Black’s “What Is A Woman?” Act would eliminate the term gender from government documents, including driver's licenses, and require instead for the sex assigned at birth to be listed under sex.

“It will come as a surprise to absolutely no one that the State of Florida believes in truth and science,” Black told the conservative Florida’s Voice. “Since time immemorial, and for all time yet to come, there are two sexes: male and female. These are immutable, unchanging characteristics in the eyes of the law.”

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Black, who also serves as chair of the Duval County Republican Party in Jacksonville, filed H.B. 1233 on Thursday. As originally drafted, the bill takes some specific aim at political parties that allow transgender people to serve as committeemen or committeewomen based on their gender identity.

But the provision of the bill likely to affect most trans people would forbid anyone from seeking an update to their driver's license or government ID that changes the gender originally listed and would require individuals to sign a legal affidavit that the gender on their original birth certificate.

This could potentially impact the ability of intersex and non-binary individuals to secure identification, and for any transgender person to change the listed gender following a transition.

The bill also impacts health insurance policies in the state, making clear companies have to cover conversion therapy. The text of the legislation states providers: “may not prohibit the coverage of mental health or therapeutic services to treat a person's perception that his or her sex is inconsistent with the person's sex at birth by affirming the insured's sex.”

Beyond the discriminatory nature of the bill, LGBTQ+ advocates say the legislation threatens the ability to even document violence against the community.

“It requires all vital statistics collected by government agencies to use sex assigned at birth which would make it near impossible to document hate crimes against trans people,” posted Alejandra Carabello, a trans Harvard Law clinical instructor.

The bill also states any plan that covers gender-affirming care must also provide for de-transitioning and requires policyholders to make available plans that don’t cover gender-affirming care at a lower cost.

While Carabello said she believes de-transitioning should be covered by policies, she fears tying the requirement to coverage of gender-affirming care and complicating offering requirements will lead to insurers simply not providing coverage for such healthcare at all.

At the moment, the legislation has no companion in the Florida Senate, and the state’s 60-day legislative session begins on Monday. A day after filing the bill, it still lacks a staff analysis. But after Florida in the past few years enacted a number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills.

“If you thought the Florida Legislature was finished obsessing over culture war attacks on LGBTQ people, you were wrong,” said Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Equality Florida outreach coordinator running for Florida state Senate. “This is an ugly, mean-spirited bill that solves zero problems in our state and helps no one. The bill’s ultimate goal is to deny the existence of transgender people, bully them from public life, and push them out of Florida entirely.”

The LGBTQ+ advocacy group sounded alarms.

“This bill is rooted in a dangerous ideology that denies transgender people do or should exist,” said Jon Harris Maurer, public policy director for Equality Florida. “It is part of a blatant attempt to oust transgender Floridians and their families from the state, making them political refugees. We’re ready to fight."

Some of the language about recognizing sex based only on reproductive organs at birth mirrors language included in a law signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last year segregating publicly owned bathrooms and changing facilities by sex at birth.

Florida in recent years also passed laws targeting gender-affirming care for minors; a federal judge recently said DeSantis lied about the law by wrongly asserting most such care for minors involves genital “mutilation.”

The state also passed a drag ban that courts currently say cannot be enforced.

The continued pursuit of restrictions on trans rights has activists in the state alarmed how far the Legislature may go, regardless of legal precedent.

Black defended the bill on social media.

“It’s biology - NOT ideology!” he posted.

Joe Saunders, an out Florida state Senate candidate, said the legislation doesn’t address real problems and shows the unseriousness of the Legislature.

“Instead of fixing our home and car insurance crisis, the housing crisis, or any number of REAL issues - we see more FAKE threats and manufactured culture wars,” he said. “Today a sweeping attack on the freedoms of transgender Floridians was dropped.”

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