Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called gender-affirming care “chemical castration” and defended the state’s “don’t say gay” law in a Monday debate with his Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist.
DeSantis, a Republican with presidential ambitions, has taken many anti-LGBTQ+ stances. “When they say ‘gender-affirming care,’ they mean giving puberty blockers to teenage girls and teenage boys,” he said in the debate. Florida regulators are considering banning gender-affirming care for youth.
He said doctors are “chemically castrating young boys.” He added, “A lot of kids go through a lot of different things. A lot of the dysphoria resolves itself by the time they become adults.”
However, studies have indicated that people who initiate gender-affirming care as teens continue with it into adulthood. Also, the effects of puberty blockers are reversible once young people go off them.
DeSantis went on to decry top surgery for trans boys, saying, “It’s inappropriate to be doing that.”
Breast augmentation or reduction is more common among teens than mastectomies.
Crist, a former governor and congressman, responded by turning the conversation to abortion rights, which he supports and DeSantis opposes. “This reminds me of your position on a woman’s right to choose: You think you know better than any physician or any doctor — or any woman in a position to make decisions about their own personal health. You want to be the judge,” he said.
DeSantis also defended the so-called “don’t say gay” legislation he signed into law this year, restricting classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity, and other legislation that restricts instruction about racism. The governor said it was a question of parental rights, appropriateness of curricula, and not encouraging hate.
Crist responded, “Here you go again, Ron. It’s all about culture wars, it’s all about dividing us … whether it’s Blacks against whites, whether it’s gay and straight, whether it’s young versus old.”
The debate covered a wide range of other topics, including economic issues, DeSantis’s presidential hopes, and his sending of immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
Watch the debate below.