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Get the latest coverage of the 2023 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

A bill that bans gender-affirming care for kids is on its way to DeSantis

A person holds a cardboard sign with the words Gender Affirming Care Saves Lives
Anna Jones
WFSU Public Media
Protestors filled the Capitol to fight for during the Transgender Day of Visibility

Under the bill, most kids under 18 won’t be able to receive gender affirming care including puberty blockers or hormone therapy.

A bill that bans gender affirming care for kids is on its way to Governor Ron DeSantis' desk. Advocates for the LGBTQ+ community say its one in a line of bills passed this week that are making Florida feel like an unfriendly place.

Under the bill most kids under 18 won’t be able to receive gender affirming care including puberty blockers or hormone therapy. Some kids who have already begun such treatment will be able to continue, but the bill instructs the state Board of Medicine to make rules about what that will look like.

Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando) says the bill will hurt families.

“These are your neighbors, your friends, your loved ones, your coworkers. They just want to be their authentic self and access the healthcare they need to do so," Eskamani says.

She says even taking the bill up for discussion feeds into a culture of hatred that members of the LGBTQ+ community are faced with daily.

“No one deserves to feel like they don’t belong. No one deserves to feel like they are different and no one deserves to have essential medical care taken away from them. We’re at this period where people who need this medicine, this care are moving out of the state of Florida," Eskamani says.

Eskamani says the bill is awful, but not as bad as it could have been. The Senate amended the measure to remove provisions that barred the Florida Department of health from changing the gender listed on a person’s birth certificate and it also removed a provision that prohibited any insurance company in the state from providing coverage for gender affirming care for any person of any age.

House bill sponsor Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay) told his colleagues on the floor he hopes to revisit some of those items next year.

“This bill reminds me of the line I want to say to my colleagues in the front row, we can’t let perfect be the enemy of the good," Fine said.

The bill heads now to Governor Ron DeSantis. LGBTQ+ advocates have already announced they plan to add the measure to an ongoing lawsuit challenging a similar rule passed by the Florida Board of Medicine Board of Osteopathic Medicine. That rule also bars kids from getting gender affirming care.

The measure follows several others passed this week that opponents say are part of an anti-LGBTQ+ agenda. Those bills include a plan that makes rules about who can use what restroom, a bill that limits classroom discussions on gender identity and sexual orientation, and another that protects healthcare providers and payors who refuse to offer or cover treatment based on a conscientious objection.

Follow @Regan_McCarthy

Regan McCarthy covers healthcare and government in Tallahassee, Florida. She is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories here.