Bill criminalizing gender-affirming treatment advances
Ronnie Angelique said she is a transgender woman, a success story for the last 10 years. (Christine Sexton, March 13, 2023)

Ronnie Angelique
Bill sparks emotional outpouring from patients who say the treatment was lifesaving.

A Senate bill is advancing that would criminalize child sex reassignment treatments and make the treatments a reason for the state to seize a child from parental custody.

Republican Sen. Clay Yarborough’s bill (SB 254) would put such treatment on the level of abandonment and abuse as reasons for the state’s emergency intervention in a child’s life. It’s one of a number of bills this Session that targets transgender health care and gender identity.

It drew emotional opposition during testimony, including one person who injected himself in front of the Senate Health Policy Committee and another who peeled off a shirt to reveal a message, “blood on your hands,” in violation of rules against clothing with written messages. “Trans-genocide,” was often repeated.

“Your freedom and parental rights are dependent on whether or not Ron DeSantis approves of your genitals,” said Kate Danehy-Samitz, founder and Vice President of Women’s Voices of Southwest Florida. “Senator Yarborough has militarized the Florida GOP into the genital Gestapo. … From every angle and opportunity you are committing genocide.”

Many said that gender-affirming care saved their lives and banning it as the bill calls for would sentence more people to suicide.

“I am a Black Latina trans woman and I am the success story that you all miss,” said Ronnie Angelique of Tampa, who said she’s been living this way for 10 years. “I started my hormones here in Florida. I got my life together. I became a master’s degree of psychology, and I’m currently pursuing my PhD in psychiatry. … I have a successful life … so look at me and remember this face because this is the face that you’re denying.”

The vote follows action from the Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine that made this treatment for minors a violation of the standard of care. Those rules, about to go into effect, would make it so doctors’ licenses can be subject to sanctions if they provide care to those younger than 18.

The DeSantis administration implemented rules that prohibit Medicaid from paying for any gender-affirming or gender-conforming care for the poor, elderly or disabled. Those rules are being challenged in federal court.

Tuesday’s testimony grew so heated that the Committee Chair, Republican Sen. Colleen Burton warned that inappropriate, four-letter words would not be tolerated.

Republican Reps. Randy Fine and Fred Massullo have filed a related bill (HB 1421) but that legislation focuses on birth certificate changes, clinical practices and insurance payments.

Yarborough’s bill would limit the prescriptions available even to adults, opponents said. But the Senator said he was focused on protecting children from treatments other countries have banned.

The bill would make it so that sex reassignment prescriptions and procedures would be considered “serious physical harm” when it involves a child. The bill also says that a parent’s removal of a child from another parent’s custody would be justifiable if it was done to prevent the child from receiving sex reassignment prescriptions or procedures.

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book introduced a number of amendments, including one that would strike the provision that makes providing such treatment treatments to children a third-degree felony. The committee rejected them all.

Dr. Paul Robinson warned the committee that the bill would aggravate the current pediatric endocrinologist shortage in the state. He’s on the workforce committee for the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“If you criminalize this, there are going to be people … they’re going to be saying, ‘Do I want to go to Florida where I might end up in jail if I do something that they don’t like, or do I want to go somewhere else where I can practice as I was taught to practice?'” Robinson said.

No Republicans except Yarborough put forth an opinion on the bill. But all three Democrats spoke against it.

“All you should have heard is love me as I am,” said Sen. Tracie Davis on the testimony that the committee heard.

Other parts of the bill address health insurance and clinics that provide sex reassignment treatment, which advocates call “gender-affirming care.”

The bill calls for health care providers to say they don’t provide the treatment to children younger than 18 or face losing their license. It also prohibits any state group health insurance policy from paying for the treatment.


Florida Politics writer Christine Sexton contributed to this report.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Ron DeSantis

    March 13, 2023 at 7:42 pm

    Parental rights! Unless parents do something I disagree with! Then parents should lose access to their child!

  • Ron DeSantis is a hypocrite

    March 13, 2023 at 7:44 pm

    Parental rights! Unless parents do something I disagree with! Then parents should lose custody of their child!

  • Richard Bruce

    March 13, 2023 at 8:12 pm

    Gender affirming treatment is silvering glass.

  • just sayin

    March 14, 2023 at 9:19 am

    Alternate title – “Bill criminizaling the sterilization of children advances”

Comments are closed.


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