Two Florida Republicans want to deny life-saving health care to transgender youth

This is just the latest attack on basic human rights for Florida’s already targeted and vulnerable transgender community.

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click to enlarge Two Florida Republicans want to deny life-saving health care to transgender youth
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In Trump’s America transgender people are clearly becoming the new target of outrage, and his rhetoric has now found a home in the Florida legislature. Today, two Florida Republicans filed anti-transgender legislation that would essentially ban a variety of life-saving medical treatments for trans youth.

Ironically dubbed the “Vulnerable Child Protection Act,” the bill was filed by State Rep. Anthony Sabatini and sponsored with a sister bill in the Senate by Sen. Dennis Baxley.

The bill, HB1365, defines sex as “the 18 biological state of being female or male based on sex organs, 19 chromosomes, and endogenous hormone profiles,” and would make it a second-degree felony for health care providers to change the sex of a minor or even administer life-saving treatments for gender transitions.

Under the law the following practices on a minor would be banned: 

  • Performing surgeries that sterilize, including castration, vasectomy, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, metoidioplasty, orchiectomy, penectomy, phalloplasty, and vaginoplasty.

  • Performing a mastectomy.

  • Administering, prescribing, or supplying the following medications that induce transient or permanent infertility: 1) Puberty-blocking medication, which stops or delays normal puberty 2) Supraphysiologic doses of testosterone, to females; or 3) Supraphysiologic doses of estrogen, to males; or removing any otherwise healthy or nondiseased body part or tissue.

However, the bill says that these procedures would be legal if a health care practitioner was “acting in accordance with a  good faith medical decisions of a parent or guardian of a minor born with a medically verifiable genetic disorder of sex development.” This would include situations if the child was born intersex, which means they have male and female sex characteristics.

“The goal of this bill is to protect innocent youth from being permanently disfigured,” said Sabatini in a press release.

But the fundamental problem is that banning necessary healthcare is insanely counterintuitive, since these types of treatments actually help save lives and alleviate gender dysphoria, which is defined as a discomfort or distress caused by a discrepancy between a person’s gender identity and the sex they’re assigned at birth. 

For example, puberty blockers (which Sabatini wants to ban) are a clinically safe, reversible treatment that pause the physical changes associated with puberty, and are only administered so that a patient can later make a more informed decision about permanent treatment. 

It’s also important to note that things like surgery and hormones aren’t a mere choice, and for some transgender people these treatments are deemed medically necessary, according to the American Medical Association.

However, forcing trans youth to go through the “wrong puberty” actually is a choice, and can have “clear long-term negative mental health effects,” says Dr. Jeremi M. Carswell, the director of the Gender Management Service Division of Endocrinology at the Children's Hospital of Boston, in an interview with Buzzfeed

Since Trump has taken office, the trans community has witnessed an unprecedented purge of basic rights, from transgender military bans, appealing gender-neutral passports, to even allowing homeless shelters to not maintain anti-discrimination policies for LGBTQ people. 

Speaking with USA Today, Johanna Olson-Kennedy, the medical director of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, said that “Trans people, people experiencing gender dysphoria, they have a war to wage anyway in their just daily existence. It is completely outrageous to add another level of that battle that is coming from the people running the country. It's abhorrent.”

Olson-Kennedy added that, “These are lifesaving procedures, and to deny somebody a lifesaving procedure is malpractice.”

But this is just the latest attack on basic human rights for Florida’s already targeted and vulnerable transgender community. Florida is a hostile state to be a member of the LGBTQ community. Last year, Florida literally tied Texas for the most murders of transgender people. Plus, the state still has zero discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations, which has forced cities like Tampa, St. Petersburg and Orlando to enact their own anti-discrimination ordinances. 

But for Baxley and Sabatini, bills like the “Vulnerable Child Protection Act” are just par for the course. Both lawmakers have a long history of abusive, racist, and discriminatory legislation and behavior.

Last year, Sabatini actually tried to overturn these same aforementioned city ordinances that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. He also famously was caught wearing blackface in a high school yearbook photo, and once tweeted “MAGA” at a reporter who was assaulted outside of a Trump rally in Orlando. 

Baxley, who authored Florida’s incredibly racist Stand Your Ground bill, is categorically worse, and is known for things like refusing to disavow a pro-Confederate group just days after the deadly “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, comparing gay parents to drugs abusers and drunk drivers, and even arguing that oppressive abortion laws are a good thing because the country needs to preserve “western” culture.

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About The Author

Colin Wolf

Colin Wolf has been working with weekly newspapers since 2007 and has been the Digital Editor for Creative Loafing Tampa since 2019. He is also the Director of Digital Content Strategy for CL's parent company, Euclid Media Group.
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