TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Some call it transphobic while others claim it is protection for children.
A Florida lawmaker is now explaining his reasoning for proposing a ban on gender assignment treatment for transgender children earlier this week.
In a series of Monday tweets, state Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, said he plans to carry a 2023 bill to "make it illegal to provide drugs or surgery to a minor for 'gender assignment.'"
I've had enough. Next session, I will shepherd legislation to make it illegal to provide drugs or surgery to a minor for “gender assignment." Will make it felony child abuse punishable by prison/loss of medical license. This legislation would not affect mental counseling.— Rep. Randy Fine (@VoteRandyFine) April 4, 2022
"I can say I'm a porcupine, but that doesn't make it so," Fine wrote.
The Republican said Tuesday that he won't touch mental counseling. His bill would focus on drug and surgical therapies, making them "felony child abuse" for doctors and parents. Punishment could include loss of license or prison time.
"No parent has the right to abuse their child," Fine said. "And having your 13-year-old daughter's breasts cut off, I think, is child abuse."
Democrats were quick to condemn. Some lawmakers lampooned Fine online for his comments.
Others said his bill would hurt the state's most vulnerable children by taking away parental access to life-saving care.
"There's a lengthy process that folks go through before they access this care," said Brandon Wolf with Equality Florida, an LGBTQ civil rights group. "When they do, it's the thing that makes the difference between whether they make it to tomorrow or not."
Wolf considered the proposal an attack on LGBTQ families. He called it "escalation" after a session that saw controversial policies like the "Parents Rights in Education" a.k.a. the "Don't Say Gay" bill.
The Legislature approved HB 1557 mostly along party lines. It prohibits the instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity in K-3 classrooms or in a manner that is not age-appropriate. Republicans cheered it as a protection of young children and parental rights.
"Rep. Fine has fully exposed this lie that the Republican Party and Republican leadership care about parental rights," Wolf said. "It's not the role of policymakers in Tallahassee to decide which parents' rights matter and at what point in time."
Fine, however, remains committed. He said the idea is more than just rhetoric. The lawmaker planned to follow through.
"I've been trying to answer the question of why do people oppose this idea so much?" asked Fine. "It turns out there is this agenda among this woke radical left to sexualize our children, and this is just one aspect of it."
Fine isn't the first to propose a policy like this. A similar bill in 2020 failed to get traction. It's unclear how the revamped policy will do next year.