Tallahassee, Florida Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, condemns the Florida Senate for advancing Senate Bill 254, an extreme, unprecedented attack on transgender people, their health care, and the families and health care providers who care for them. The bill is a gender-affirming care ban that would also strip parental rights from parents who support their transgender children.
This bill would penalize providers by inflicting criminal penalties (including felony penalties) on providers who give gender-affirming care; it would take licenses away from those providers; and it would prohibit Medicare from covering gender-affirming care for transgender youth or adults. It would also forbid public funds, including those of a public university, public hospital, city, or county, and Medicare, from being used to provide benefits that include gender-affirming care - for transgender people of all ages. And - uniquely - it allows the state to remove trans children from their parents if they are receiving transition care by purporting to give Florida family courts jurisdiction to set aside another state's custody determination for a young person if their parents have authorized or might authorize best practice, age-appropriate gender-affirming health care.
In response, Cathryn Oakley, HRC's State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel released the following statement:
"Florida lawmakers have no shame. This discriminatory bill is extraordinarily desperate and extreme in a year full of extreme, discriminatory legislation. It is a cruel effort to stigmatize, marginalize and erase the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender youth. Let me be clear: gender-affirming care saves lives. Every mainstream American medical and mental health organization representing millions of providers in the United States call for age-appropriate, gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people.
"These politicians have no place inserting themselves in conversations between doctors, parents, and transgender youth about gender-affirming care. And at the same time that Florida lawmakers crow about protecting parental rights they make an extra-constitutional attempt to strip parents of - you guessed it! - their parental rights. The Human Rights Campaign strongly condemns this bill and will continue to fight for LGBTQ+ youth and their families who deserve better from their elected leaders."
The House is expected to have a floor vote on the companion bill, HB 1421, this week. HB 1421 is another extraordinary example of discrimination, an extreme outlier even in a field of extreme legislation. This bill would, among other things: ban best practice, age-appropriate care for transgender youth; impose criminal, civil, and professional consequences on providers who attempt to deliver such care; make it effectively impossible for a person to access health insurance that covers gender-affirming care by prohibiting public and private entities from offering such coverage; grant emergency jurisdiction to Florida family courts to reverse custody determinations from other states that give legal rights to parents who affirm transgender youth; and prevent transgender people from correcting their birth certificates.
Acting at the behest of the administration of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine also advanced a politically motivated and discriminatory proposed rule change that denies age-appropriate gender-affirming care to Florida's transgender youth. The rule (64B8-9.019) was filed with the Florida Department of State on February 24, 2023 and became effective on March 16, 2023. Four Florida families filed a lawsuit in federal court [ www.hrc.org/press-releases/families-sue-to-stop-florida-ban-on-essential-medical-care-for-transgender-youth ] challenging the Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine's new rules banning the medically necessary healthcare their transgender children need.
So far in 2023, HRC is tracking more than 470 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. More than 190 of those bills would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date.
This year, HRC is tracking:
More than 110 bills that would prevent trans youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; this year, nine have already become law in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Dakota, Utah, Iowa, Georgia, Kentucky and now West Virginia.
More than 25 bathroom ban bills filed,
More than 85 curriculum censorship bills and 40 anti-drag performance bills.
In a coordinated push [ www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/03/anti-trans-transgender-health-care-ban-legislation-bill-minors-children-lgbtq/ ] led by national anti-LGBTQ+ groups, which deployed vintage discriminatory tropes, politicians in statehouses across the country introduced 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2022 and 29 passed into law. Despite this, fewer than 10% of these efforts succeeded. The majority of the discriminatory bills 149 bills targeted the transgender and non-binary community, with the majority targeting children receiving the brunt of discriminatory legislation. By the end of the 2022 legislative session, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children passed into law.
Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in 2022 took several forms, including:
80 bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity. 19 states now exclude transgender athletes in school sports.
42 bills to prevent transgender and non-binary youth from receiving life-saving, medically-necessary gender-affirming healthcare. 5 states now restrict access to gender-affirming care.
70 curriculum censorship bills tried to turn back the clock and restrict teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ issues and other marginalized communities in their classrooms. 7 passed into law.
More than 300 major U.S. corporations [ www.hrc.org/resources/business-statement-on-anti-lgbtq-state-legislation ] have stood up and spoken out to oppose anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being proposed in states across the country. Major employers in tech, manufacturing, hospitality, health care, retail, and other sectors are joining with a unified voice to say discrimination is bad for business and to call on lawmakers to abandon these efforts. Four of the largest U.S. food companies [ www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2021/04/07/why-companies-should-fight-anti-lgbtq-legislation-corporate-leaders-column/7103902002/ ] also condemned "dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people," and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement [ www.kark.com/news/politics/walton-family-foundation-issues-statement-on-arkansas-anti-trans-legislation/ ] ]expressing "alarm" at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that recently became law in Arkansas.
According to the latest data this year from PRRI [ www.hrc.org/press-releases/icymi-new-data-shows-support-for-lgbtq-rights-reaches-highest-rates-ever-recorded ] , support for LGBTQ+ rights is on the rise in Florida and nationwide: 80% of Florida residents support nondiscrimination protections, and 66% of Florida residents oppose refusal of service on religious grounds. About eight in ten Americans (80%) favor laws that would protect LGBTQ+ people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing. This reflects a dramatic increase in the proportion of Americans who support nondiscrimination protections since 2015, when it was 71%.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.