Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed five bills protecting women and children from the harmful implications of transgender ideology on Wednesday at Cambridge Christian School in Hillsborough County, most notably one that “will permanent outlaw the mutilation of minors,” said DeSantis. Florida will “remain a refuge of sanity and a citadel of normalcy,” DeSantis insisted, “and kids should have an upbringing that reflects that.”
Florida Senate Bill 254 prohibits “the prescription or administration” of puberty blockers, hormones, or “any medical procedure, including a surgical procedure, to affirm a person’s perception of his or her sex if that perception is inconsistent with the person’s sex,” biologically defined as “the classification of a person as either male or female based on the organization of the human body of such person for a specific reproductive role, as indicated by the person’s sex chromosomes, naturally occurring sex hormones, and internal and external genitalia present at birth.”
“It’s kind of sad that we even have some of these discussions,” said DeSantis. “We stopped it administratively in Florida last year, but we needed to have the legislature make this permanent.” The Florida Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine adopted rules at a November joint board meeting that prohibited gender transitions on minors, then clarified the rules in February. The Florida Senate passed SB 254 (27-12) on April 4, and the Florida House passed it with modifications (82-31) on April 19. The Senate further amended the bill (26-13) on May 4, and the House agreed to the changes (83-28) the same day. In every vote, the bill received the support of at least two-thirds of the members in both houses.
The legislation became official Wednesday under DeSantis’s pen. “People in your industry will dress it up with a euphemism,” DeSantis told the press earlier this month. “And they’ll say it’s ‘health care’ to cut off the private parts of a 14 or 15-year-old. That is not health care. That is mutilation. And so, when we’re standing up against that, we’re protecting these kids.”
Under SB 254, any violators face the loss of their license, liability in a civil suit, and felony charges up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The bill also bars the use of public funds for gender transition procedures, protects minors from being trafficked out of state for such procedures, and requires any facility performing gender transition procedures on adults to register and provide information about the harmful effects of the procedures.
“You have a movement amongst, I would say, ‘rogue elements’ of the medical establishment to do things that is, basically, the mutilation of minors,” said DeSantis, pointing to procedures that are both “irreversible” and “not based on science.” DeSantis noted that “countries have tried to do this in Europe,” but then “they recognized this was very harmful and so now they don’t do it.”
DeSantis also signed HB 1069, which he described as “basically an expansion of last year’s parental rights and education bill,” specifically by protecting students and teachers from having to “declare their pronouns in school or be forced to use pronouns not based on biological sex.” DeSantis quipped, “We never did this through all of human history until, like, what? Two weeks ago? … We’re not doing the Pronoun Olympics in Florida.” DeSantis noted that school officials in Hillsborough County, where the bills were signed, had fought to keep “pornographic materials here in schools, funded by your tax dollars,” and had tried to hide from parents a policy to make children choose their pronouns.
Next up, DeSantis signed SB 1438, a bill which copies Tennessee in prohibiting drag shows and other inappropriate performances with minors present. “You’ll have situations where you’ll have, like, an eight-year-old girl there, where you have these like really explicit shows, and that is just inappropriate,” said DeSantis. The bill has already led to two canceled Pride events. Port St. Lucie city officials preemptively canceled a Pride parade in April “because Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign SB1438 into law soon.” After the law was signed, organizers of a September Pride festival in Tampa canceled it because it involves open-air drag performances.
DeSantis then signed HB 1521, a bill “ensuring women’s safety,” he explained, by requiring “educational institutions, detention facilities, correctional institutes, juvenile facilities and public buildings with a restroom, locker room, or changing facility” to “have separate facilities for men and women based on biological sex.”
Lastly, he signed HB 225, a bill to “allow private school, virtual school, and home school students to participate in sports and extracurricular activities at public or private schools regardless of their zip code,” which also “preserves the First Amendment right to speech including in public prayer at the beginning of high school sporting events.” Cambridge Christian was forced to sue the Florida High School Athletic Association “just to be able to pray before athletic games,” DeSantis noted, even though the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Coach Joe Kennedy’s right to pray just last term.
Pro-trans activists tried vigorously to derail the passage of Florida SB 254. LGBT group Equality Florida and Democratic lawmakers boisterously protested the bill outside the Senate chamber on March 13, while it was under consideration. At the event, state Rep. Anna Eskamini (D) complained that Republicans were “erasing our trans babies.” On April 18, protestors threw underwear with “leave my genitals alone” written on it from the balcony on lawmakers below; law enforcement escorted the group, which included children, from the building, cited six people for trespass, and arrested one on a charge of disturbing the peace.
Florida joins 16 other states that have passed laws protecting children from gender transition procedures, including 13 this year. Other states appear poised to follow suit, such as Texas, which sent a bill to the governor on Wednesday, and Missouri, where the two chambers have approved different versions of a bill.