The Florida Legislature passed on Thursday a ban on physicians providing gender-affirming care to minors.
The matter now will head to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has repeatedly called into question providing any transgender care in the state. He is expected to sign the bill and add to his record of anti-LGBTQ+ policies. DeSantis is expected to announce a run for president within days.
As this legislation worked its way through Florida’s legislative process, the House and Senate did wrangle over details. The Senate passed an amendment on Thursday that grandfathered in any minors already receiving care. The final bill allows care for those individuals to continue, so long as parents provide their consent and a licensed medical professional provides the care.
“After the bill takes effect such treatments will be illegal,” said Sen. Clay Yarborough, the Republican behind this bill and other anti-LGBTQ+ legislation under consideration this year.
Florida Sen. Shevrin Jones, Florida’s only out Senator, pushed on the floor to make clear the bill would not impact adults, including those who started treatments before they were adults.
The final bill does stop short of many impacts the House legislation threatened. That bill would have also prevented insurers from providing any coverage to adults receiving care. None of that language made it through the Senate, which approved the legislation on a 26-13 vote.
Florida Rep. Randy Fine, the Republican sponsoring the House legislation, agreed to the changes in the Senate. The House approved the bill on an 83-28 party line vote.
While discussing the bill, he refused to call any treatment discussed “gender-affirming care,” and instead referred to puberty blockers as “castration drugs.”
He also noted the executive branch in the state could still act unilaterally without a change in statute, as the Florida Board of Medicine has already sought to do.
“The Board of Medicine will still be able to make the decision about whether the children currently receiving the castration drugs can continue to receive them,” he said.
It’s also still possible the state board, whose members are appointed by the governor, could restrict care for minors already receiving care, Fine said.
He said, “Trans people are not evil. We get accused that we think that. They're not evil. But you know what they are? They're the victims of those who are who prey on them.”
Critics of the bill said the bill was a threat to Florida’s children.
“I just want to further stress my concerns with any legislation that specifically targets gender-affirming care for Floridians,” said Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat. “I know some of my colleagues don't call it that. But for many who receive this, this care, it is essential to their health and well-being.”
LGBTQ+ rights group Equality Florida condemned the legislation's passage.
“This bill painfully shows Governor DeSantis’ ‘Florida freedom’ farce,” Jon Harris Maurer, Equality Florida's public policy director, said. “It’s an assault on medical freedom and the freedom to parent. After weaponizing the state’s Medicaid agency and Board of Medicine against the transgender community, the Governor’s surrogates have now rammed through legislation to override parental decision making, jail Florida doctors following best practices, and force adults to jump through government hoops to access their daily medication. This crusade is about political aspirations, but it has real world consequences for Florida families.”