TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The GOP-controlled Legislature's crackdown on gender dysphoria treatments for transgender minors cleared its first House committee Wednesday with a split vote.
Republican backers said they're fighting to protect children from "an ideology masquerading as medicine" while LGBTQ+ advocates warn lives are at risk without the care.
If signed into law, the bill bans hormone therapy, puberty blockers and surgeries for transgender minors. Physicians face third-degree felonies for violation.
Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, has promised the policy since last year. He considers the treatments "child abuse."
"It is not health care to cut someone's body parts off," Fine said in committee. "That is not care."
However, his bill goes well beyond a ban on care. It also includes the following:
- Cuts insurance coverage of the therapies for adults
- Forbids the use of public funds for them
- Creates a path for lawsuits against the practice
- Allows courts to weigh in on child custody when gender dysphoria treatments are a factor
- Limits change to a person's gender on their birth certificate.
In public comment, a handful spoke in support of the changes. Most of them were concerned there wasn't enough research to back the use of the treatments.
"These treatments are experimental," Ryan Kennedy with Florida Citizens Alliance said. "They are dangerous, and have a lot of long-term side effects."
But doctors, families and others pushed back.
"This bill overrides parents' rights to seek health care for their children— potentially lifesaving health care," Jon Harris Maurer with Equality Florida said.
Maurer and others pointed to wide support for the treatments from groups like the American Medical Association and others. Democrats offered backup in debate.
"We need to get out of everybody's business," Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Delray Beach, said. "These are health care decisions, just like abortion."
Republicans didn't budge, sending HB 1421 to its last committee before reaching the House floor. The policy has a similar version in the Senate. It too is one committee away from the chamber floors.