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What You Need to Know about Florida’s Anti-Trans Laws

May 10, 2023
Protest sign Trans Rights Now with other signs, buildings in the background

Please know that an attack on human rights for any marginalized group is an attack on everyone’s human rights. Authoritarians and supremacists never stop with one group. They get people on board, thinking “I don’t belong to that group, so I don’t really care.” Or even get people supporting them to help ostracize the current publicized out group.

If you know anything about history, then you know if you aren’t a cis, straight, white, Christian, RICH man, then you are vulnerable and might eventually get caught on the wrong end of the madness. The number of people on social media surprised that they are casualties of vaguely worded hate bills doesn’t surprise me, but it’s frustrating. What did they think would happen when they were okay with punishing other people for living? Why is anybody so concerned with other people’s private lives that they want to legislate their existence?

Gender-Affirming Care is not Trans Specific

Before we look at the bills, note that while the term gender-affirming care is often used as trans specific and connected to hormones and gender reassignment surgery, that’s not all it means. According to

“Gender affirming care (GAC) refers to any combination of social, legal, and medical measures that help people feel happy, healthy, and safe in their gender. GAC takes a holistic approach to making sure a person’s mental and physical needs surrounding their gender identity and expression are met.”

Gender-affirming care for trans people might look like socially shifting their gender identity, getting medical assistance to embody the physical representation that matches their inner feeling, and legally changing their name. Cis folks usually receive support for our gender-affirming care - cosmetic procedures like breast enhancement for women (or reduction for men), growing a beard to cover a weak chin, the way we cut and style our hair, the clothes we wear. Keep in mind that the way gender-affirming care is being used in politics is skewed and targeted to erase a specific group of people who experience body dysphoria on a scale cis people can only imagine. I thought this tweet thread explained it beautifully. (Click to read the entire thread.)

“Cis ppl get dysphoria all the time. It’s when a woman cries and wears hats for a month bc the cute pixie cut went wrong and made her look masculine. When a man takes off a shirt like it’s on fire bc it hung in a way that made it look like he had breasts.”

Here's Some of What’s Happening to Erase Trans People

Florida is leading the charge at the state level to eliminate the presence of trans folks in public spaces. At least a dozen other states are on this bandwagon. State legislatures are threatening physicians and other healthcare workers with fines, felony convictions, prison, and the temporary or permanent loss of their licenses. They are threatening parents with felony convictions as well.

The Bathroom Bill: Florida state legislature approved HB 1521 to restrict bathroom access for trans folks. The bill requires that trans folks use the bathroom of their gender assigned at birth, even if they’ve fully transitioned. So in this effort “to protect women,” the law will require:

  • trans men who fully present as male (along with trans men in the process) to use the women’s restroom and
  • trans women who fully present as female (along with trans women in the process) to use the men’s restroom.

The bill was amended before it was passed to apply only to public facilities – schools, parks, prisons, government buildings at the state capitol. The original bill would have had restaurants and retail spaces become the potty police against their customers.

One exception to the bill includes children under 12 going to the bathroom with an adult or caregiver of the opposite sex. Failure to comply on the part of the institution could result in a $10,000 fine if someone complains.

The bill gives authority figures in each of the government institutions the right to ask those they suspect are trans to leave the bathroom. And if the person doesn’t leave, they can be charged with trespassing. This law goes into effect July 1, 2023, but the Departments of Corrections, Juvenile Justice, state Board Education, and governing bodies of municipalities have until July 1, 2024 to establish procedures for how to carry out the law.

For those of you who don’t immediately see what’s wrong with this, here are just a two problems I see:

  • This is giving vigilante vibes. You know how Black folks complain about random white people feeling like they can police where we can be and how we behave? This law is giving cis folks that kind of authority over PERCEIVED TRANS FOLKS. Which leads to my next point…
  • YOU DON’T KNOW WHO’S TRANS!!!! I bet some of y’all know trans folks who just never told you their history. You met them after their transition was complete and they never felt the need to tell you their past. I bet y’all know people that waste time eye balling folks who don’t fit their idea of feminine or masculine and assume that a woman with large hands or a man with wide hips must be trans. You know what? Humans come in all shapes and sizes and there are masculine looking women and feminine looking men who just look the way they look and it means absolutely nothing about their gender identity. And it’s nobody’s business!

Most of us just want the relief and to get out of the bathroom as soon as possible. There are so many things that matter right now. Gun violence, the destruction of our educational system...why this focus on people's genitalia and where they relieve themselves? It would seem like a bad joke if people weren't getting hurt.

These bills are NOT to protect women. Men who want to rape women in public bathrooms don’t dress like women to get away with the crime. That’s not a thing. That’s made up to justify bigotry against trans folks. Rapists just rape. And by the way, most rapists are cis men, not trans men.

Banning Gender Affirming Care:

Florida lawmakers passed a bill that would prevent health care providers from offering treatments such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy to minors. One Republican crossed party lines to vote no with Democrats.

Last year, Florida blocked Medicaid reimbursements for trans gender affirming care like puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgery for both adults and minors. The state medical board adopted rules to prevent gender affirming care for trans minors, and this bill goes further by putting those rules into law. Physicians could be charged with a third degree felony for providing care to minors. Children currently receiving care would be allowed to continue puberty blockers and hormone therapy, but the state Board of Medicine would be required to create rules for standards of practice.

Adults can continue treatment but with restrictions – new consent forms to sign (that have yet to be created) and no telehealth appointments for gender-affirming care.

The people who use freedom as their political slogan really mean freedom from being exposed to anything outside their norm.

The Take Your Kids Bill:

The Florida House of Representatives approved a bill that would allow the courts to remove trans children from their custodial parent(s) if the child is receiving gender-affirming care. The most recent version does not include provisions to allow Florida courts to modify out-of-state custody agreements. (The bill originally would have allowed the non-custodial parent who lived in Florida to take the trans child from another state.) The bill does give Florida courts the jurisdiction to remove trans children who are receiving gender-affirming care from their parents. Parents and doctors could be charged with a felony.

Florida Sen. Lori Berman (D) condemned the bill and Republican attacks on trans health care, parental rights, and bodily autonomy before the chamber voted to pass the legislation. “I would say free states don’t ban health care. This bill is wrong on the way it attacks transgender adults, wrong on the way it attacks parents’ rights to raise their children, and wrong on how it puts medical professionals at risk.”

Who Are Some Unintended Casualties?

The cis women Republicans claim to be protecting are casualties of some of these anti-trans bills. For purposes of the GOP extreme bathroom bill in Kansas, the legislature defined a woman as someone who produces ova. So do cis gender women who are in menopause or had hysterectomies or for some other reason their bodies don’t produce eggs now have to use the men’s bathroom?

This is pretty typical for people operating in bad faith.

Micah Kubic, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, noted that the lack of clarity in the bill was purposeful. He said, “It allows them to disclaim the worst possible interpretation while also allowing for the worst possible outcome to happen.”


****I posted this blog yesterday and today this video was on my timeline. This is what these bills are encouraging. Click to watch.

"Transphobia eventually becomes this: harassing random strangers in the bathroom and getting yourself heated bc you believe, from your visual observation, that it's possible to know someone's gender just by looking at them."

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