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Jeanette Jennings with her sons Sanders on the left and Griffen on the right.

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Controversial transgender bill gets hearing, but no vote in subcommittee

Critics of the bill say decisions about medical care for their children should be left up to parents. 

Rep. Anthony Sabatini‘s bill (HB 1365) relating to medical care for transgender children appears all but dead for this session, despite Monday’s workshop on the issue.

This is the final week for subcommittee hearings, which means Monday is the final meeting for the House Health Quality Subcommittee. Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, who fiercely opposes the bill, said pressure from him and a bipartisan group of other lawmakers, turned consideration of the legislation from a vote to a workshop.

Sabatini, a Howey-in-the-Hills Republican, is proposing making gender assignment surgeries for minors a felony. Doctors who perform the procedures would face up to 15 years in prison under his bill.

Broward County resident Jeanette Jennings visited the Capitol to voice her opposition to the bill, along with Equality Florida. She is the mother of Jazz Jennings, a transgender woman who has television show on TLC. She said her daughter knew at 2 years old that she was a girl. She transitioned with her mother’s permission when she was 17. Under Sabatini’s bill, that would be a felony.

“She said ‘I’m a girl’ and that has not wavered since the age of 2,” Jennings said. 

Jennings said the family has received death threats as a result of being open about Jazz’s experiences being a transgender person.

Smith said the decisions about medical care for their children should be left up to parents. 

“I compel my colleagues to listen, listen to these families who are horrified at what might happen if we criminalize life-saving care for their child,” he said. 

Sabatini argues it’s child abuse to allow minors to undergo gender reassignment operations before they are adults. He told The Blaze, a conservative news outlet, “his bill has nothing to do with sexual orientation.”

“Eighty percent of children who experience gender dysphoria outgrow it, but radical leftists want to make it permanent with dangerous medical procedures simply to further a political agenda,” he said.  

Sen. Dennis Baxley is sponsoring a companion bill (SB 1864).  

Written By

Sarah Mueller has extensive experience covering public policy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010. She began her career covering local government in Texas, Georgia and Colorado. She returned to school in 2016 to earn a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting. Since then, she’s worked in public radio covering state politics in Illinois, Florida and Delaware. If you'd like to contact her, send an email to sarah@floridapolitics.com.

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