Controversial transgender bill gets hearing, but no vote in subcommittee
Jeanette Jennings with her sons Sanders on the left and Griffen on the right.

Jeanette Jennings
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).  

Sarah Mueller

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 [email protected]


6 comments

  • Seber Newsome III

    February 3, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    Representative Smith is a nut!!!! By defeating and not supporting this bill, it is obvious, he would support a 10 year old boy or girl, to. have a sex change operation. that is NUTS!!!!!!! He will have to answer to God one day.

    • Dianne S.

      February 3, 2020 at 7:07 pm

      Nobody does sex change operations on 10 year olds, dude. Stop spreading lies.

  • Dianne S.

    February 3, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    The GOP is all for parental rights… Except not when those parents want to provide the best available care for their trans kids. Then Big Government knows best. 🙄

  • Chris Sands

    February 4, 2020 at 9:11 am

    Minors are not eligible for gender reassignment surgery. Sabatini’s bill would kill children. His “80% change their mind” is a bogus statistic. This bill ignores reality and its demise is a victory for all Floridians.

  • Carrie

    February 8, 2020 at 8:20 pm

    This isn’t ‘life saving’ surgery. Anyone that believes they aren’t born in the correct body are not in any danger from that. If the danger is non acceptance, people must live with core facets of themselves not being accepted all the time and many of those core facets aren’t changeable by surgery. Waiting until 18 would only give the growing number of kids that think they are trans but later regret transitioning or realizing they are just gay or lesbian the chance to grow up and realize such. Not to mention the issues with performing surgeries on children that aren’t fully developed and complications from surgeries, hospital visits, medication, that is all elective. In the mean time, work on self acceptance, public awareness and education, vs permanent surgery and body modification. The person is the mind. The body and the consequences on changing it can wait

  • Venus Brown

    February 12, 2020 at 12:41 am

    Go to the florida house and senate site and look up these bills, read the actual full bill text. This is not just targeting surgeries, which are not provided to minors in the first place. It is written to seem like that, but then the text goes on to include all transgender affirming care. This bill targets ALL gender affirming care, specifically prohibiting hormone blockers, and hormone therapy. These forms of care, and sometimes rare cases of surgical care are life saving procedures, because providing trans patients with gender affirming care and support brings their rates of likely suicide, suicidality, anxiety, and depression (over 50%) to levels similar to the general population (less then 30%). Without that care and support those rates are astronomically high which also elevates mortality rates of trans people, both young and old.

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