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Florida Governor Signs Bills Banning Gender-Affirming Care for Minors

DeSantis Cracks Down on Drag Shows, School Pronoun Usage, and Bathroom Policies

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a series of bills that will see gender-affirming care become illegal for minors. He also outlined plans to crack down on drag shows, stipulating that personal pronouns should not be mentioned in schools and forcing people to utilise certain bathrooms. These decisions form part of DeSantis’ wider campaign to court Republican voters and secure his place as their chosen nominee. The latest bills were rubber-stamped during a ceremony at the evangelical Cambridge Christian School in Tampa, which DeSantis filled with evangelical supporters. In contrast, he opted to sign measures on gun rights and abortion measures privately.

DeSantis’ legislation has been met with stiff opposition from left-leaning Democrats, and many within the LBGTQ+ community have staged protests against his bills. However, none of this has stopped DeSantis’ from pushing forwards with his legislation, backed by a super-majority of Republican lawmakers in both chambers. DeSantis has even claimed that major medical associations are providing expert panels with erroneous information, such as stating that children are routinely being ‘mutilated.’ While DeSantis claims that his stance protects parent’s rights, it denies the parents of transgender children their right to choose accordingly.

The gender care ban also stops state money from being used for gender-affirming care, alongside adding new restrictions to the process of adults seeking this kind of treatment. At least three Florida parents have already taken legal action to fight against this ban, hoping to obtain a temporary restraining order to protect their children’s rights. The families have been assisted by several legal advocacy groups, including the Southern Legal Counsel, the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, the National Centre for Lesbian Rights and the Human Rights Campaign.

In reaction to the signing of the bill, one of the most notable changes to medical care will be seen by women seeking medical care at Planned Parenthood centers. The organization has been forced to cancel gender-affirming care appointments as it assesses the implications of the law. Transgender medical treatment provision for children and teenagers has come under greater scrutiny in recent years, with many states imposing heavy restrictions or targeting it wholly for bans.

Despite opposition, major medical associations continue to support the use of gender-affirming care to help those with gender dysphoria. These treatments usually do not involve surgeries, with treatments usually beginning with a medical evaluation to help diagnose and offer treatment options for those suffering from the distress caused by their gender identity not matching their assigned sex. Hormone treatments can then be administered with parental consent, typically starting only from the age of 16. Surgery is usually provided to adults over the age of 18.

The passing of DeSantis’ lifetime bans on gender-affirming care and drag shows are already in effect, while the bathroom restrictions and regulations on school and personal pronoun usage take effect on July 1st. The fact that DeSantis held the signing ceremony at an evangelical school may be seen as a reflection of his stance, which is likely to earn him even more Republican supporters who share similar values.

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When signing the gender care ban, Republican Rep. Randy Fine invoked religion in defense of the law. However, his move was labeled ‘disingenuous’ by his critics, many of whom feel that his interpretation of the Bible was not accurately balanced against the protection of transgender children. With the passing of this latest wave of bills, transgender individuals and those seeking to help them will be forced to navigate the legal ramifications that may threaten their ability to seek appropriate treatment or their right to self-expression.

It is clear that, while DeSantis has secured a victory with this legislation, it has come at the cost of denying many their basic human rights. While the conservatives in his camp are likely to be appeased by these moves, the opposing side will likely seek to challenge the legal provisions soon, with more legal challenges expected.

To some, the bills that have been signed by DeSantis have been seen as a consolidation of his conservative policies, which he is certain will win him support amongst many Republican voters. Critics, meanwhile, have accused him of violating the rights of minors and transgender individuals. Even so, support for anti-transgender legislation seems to be growing, with the state of Arkansas also passing laws that mirror the legislative mood in Florida.

It is unclear where these new laws could lead, with some fearing that if it becomes law in Florida with little opposition, it will set a dangerous precedent for other conservative states to follow.

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