Florida governor DeSantis attacks trans rights – again – Open Democracy

Ladapo’s guidelines for the ‘care’ of trans minors remain non-binding for now, but physicians, parents of trans kids and LGBTQI activists and advocates are concerned that this may change following a meeting of the Florida Board of Medicine, which oversees the licensing of medical practitioners in the state, set to take place in Fort Lauderdale tomorrow.

Transgender Floridians and their allies have been sounding the alarm about the session, calling it an attempt at a “backdoor” ban on gender-affirming care in Florida. Should this prove to be the case, DeSantis will have pulled off an end run around the state legislature similar to how Texas Governor Greg Abbott exploited his power over the state bureaucracy to redefine supportive parenting of trans children as “child abuse”.

The meeting’s agenda includes a “discussion” of a 2 June letter from the state surgeon general to the board regarding gender dysphoria in children and adolescents. The Florida Department of Health has also petitioned the board to ban gender-affirming care for anyone under the age of 18, and to discourage adults considering medical transition.

This isn’t the first time DeSantis has abused state bureaucracy in pursuit of far-Right social policy goals. For example, the agency that administers Medicaid in Florida – taking its cues from the governor and the surgeon general – has already moved to ban coverage of gender-affirming care, not just for trans minors, but for all trans patients.

While this would mainly affect poorer Floridians (Medicaid is government-provided health insurance for low-income Americans), private insurers in the state might decide to follow suit and drop their coverage of gender-affirming care.

Haller spoke at a public meeting in Tallahassee on 8 July, where the state pushed its plan to defund gender-affirming care. Calling the government’s move “well organised”, Haller described the meeting as “a political showpiece”, noting that it featured far more speakers who favoured the government’s plan, including many “faux-experts”, than those who opposed it.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune called the meeting “raucous and rowdy”. The sessions on gender-affirming care at the upcoming board of medicine meeting may well be the same.

And it’s not just trans healthcare that’s under attack in Florida.

Ron DeSantis: worse than Trump

Last week, the state commissioner of education, Manny Diaz Jr., issued a memo to education professionals to reject the Biden administration’s recently issued guidelines on non-discrimination for transgender students.

The memo states that the department of education “will not stand idly by as federal agencies attempt to impose a sexual ideology on Florida schools that risk the health, safety, and welfare of Florida students”.

Of course, there is nothing inherently ‘sexual’ about being transgender, and there is no evidence of any inherent ‘risk’ in allowing trans students to access the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

Haller describes DeSantis as “unfortunately, quite clever” at deftly manoeuvring within state politics and the bureaucracy he oversees, identifying means to persecute scapegoated communities in order to “stir a base that is scared of anything perceived as ‘other’”.

Jaime Jara, a high-school teacher of American history and mother of three children, one of whom is a ten-year-old transgender girl, agrees. “I thought Trump was bad,” she says. “But for me, DeSantis is even worse, because he’s smarter and more calculating. So it’s terrifying.”

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