Lawmakers in the state legislature have joined in a national, coordinated effort to undermine the wellbeing of transgender youth, introducing legislation to bar those young people from participating in sports with their peers and criminalize doctors who provide affirming care. The bills (HB 1475, HB 935, SB 2012) are nothing short of an attack on at-risk youth designed to spread hateful stereotypes and further demonize a group of young people who need additional support and care.
“Transgender young people need to be affirmed and empowered, not used as political pawns,” said Gina Duncan, Director of Transgender Equality for Equality Florida. “This is a community of youth who are already facing discrimination, bigotry, and violence at higher rates than their peers. Our focus should be on protecting them and providing them with the support they need to thrive, not attacking them. These lawmakers should be ashamed of how they’ve decided to use kids to fuel the fear monger machine.”
Attempts to criminalize doctors for providing the best care possible to transgender youth have come before the legislature before, with Representative Sabatini introducing a similar bill in 2020. As was the case then, the nation’s leading health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the Pediatric Endocrinology Society, and the American Medical Association, and others, support gender-affirming care for transgender children. Doctors and health professionals are tasked with adhering to best practices and standards of care. The legislature forcing them to deviate from that guidance puts the health and wellbeing of transgender young people in peril.
Similarly, barring transgender young people from participating in sports with their classmates would be detrimental to their development. Participation in peer activities is a critical component to a young person’s journey. They learn important life skills like leadership, teamwork, and problem solving. Just as every young person does when they participate in sports with their peers, transgender youth want to experience a sense of belonging. Our elected leaders should be fostering a culture of inclusivity in schools, not attempting to legislate marginalized communities out of crucial social interaction. A blanket ban on transgender athletes is dangerous, cruel, and threatens to isolate a group of young people who need more support, not less.
“This national onslaught of bills aimed at transgender youth in sports is designed to pervert our natural desire for fairness and manipulate people through misrepresentation and fear,” explained Duncan. “The truth is this: it is our duty to protect trans kids. We do that by affirming them, including them, and lifting them up. The attacks on these marginalized young people must end.”
Equality Florida and our allies held a press conference uplifting the voices of transgender advocates, parents of transgender young people, the athletic coaches of transgender athletes, and elected champions of LGBTQ equality. Footage of the event can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/equalityfl/videos/160558605887145.
Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s LGBTQ community. Through education, grassroots organizing, coalition building, and lobbying, we are changing Florida so that no one suffers harassment or discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.