DeSantis signs transgender legislation, including a ban on gender-affirming care for minors
The bills also restrict pronoun use in schools and force people to use the bathroom corresponding with their sex at birth.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis chose a Christian school as his setting for signing bills Wednesday that ban gender-affirming care for minors and other measures related to transgender issues.
DeSantis signed the bills in front of a cheering crowd at the Cambridge Christian School in Tampa. The law takes effect immediately.
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“It's kind of sad that we even have some of these discussions,” DeSantis told the crowd as he stood behind a lectern with a sign that read “Let Kids Be Kids.”
The health care law centers, at least in part, on treatment for gender dysphoria, which the federal government defines clinically as “significant distress that a person may feel when sex or gender assigned at birth is not the same as their identity,”
The law prevents health care providers from offering puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgical procedures to minors. Physicians could face third-degree felony charges for violating the prohibition on care for minors.
The law includes an exemption for minors currently receiving puberty blockers or hormone therapy. But it also requires the state Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine to create rules to establish standards of practice for physicians providing care to such minors.
While adults would be able to receive the treatments, the law includes additional restrictions. For example, adults must sign consent forms that would be developed by the medical boards. Also, the law prevents the use of telehealth in providing treatments.
The state Agency for Health Care Administration, which is under DeSantis, approved a rule last year that prohibited Medicaid reimbursements for puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery for youths and adults. Also, the state medical boards adopted rules that prevented doctors from providing the treatments to minors.
In addition to the health care measure, the new laws restrict pronoun use in schools and forces people to use the bathroom corresponding with their sex in some cases.
DeSantis said the laws will prevent what he called the "mutilation of minors," protect children from “sexually explicit” entertainment and keep pronouns from being forced on students.
"We never did this through all of human history until like, what, two weeks ago? Now this is something? They're having third-graders declare pronouns? We're not doing the pronoun Olympics in Florida," DeSantis said to applause.
Republic state Rep. Randy Fine, who sponsored the ban on gender-affirming care for minors, invoked his religion to defend the state's actions.
“God does not make mistakes with our children,” he said.
Democrats opposed the bills and LBTQ+ rallies were held at the Capitol during the session that ended two weeks ago, but Republicans have a super majority in both chambers and the bills easily moved through the legislative process.
DeSantis has made LGBTQ+ legislation a large part of his agenda as he builds toward a Republican presidential campaign. The ceremony had a campaign-like feel, as opposed to when he signed measures on abortion and gun rights in private.
Information from News Service of Florida was used in this report.
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