DeSantis to sign bill banning gender-affirming care to kids

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Demonstrators protest outside the Florida House chambers against bills the chamber passed on gender-transition treatments, bathroom use and keeping children out of drag shows, Wednesday April 19, 2023 in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Brendan Farrington) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign a bill legislators sent him Thursday that would keep doctors from prescribing drugs and performing procedures on minors who are seeking gender-affirming care.

The bill, which passed in the House largely along political lines, would also ban the use of state money for gender-affirming care and place new restrictions on adults seeking treatment.

It’s the latest in anti-LGBTQ bills that the Florida Legislature has passed as the Republican DeSantis prepares to launch a presidential campaign. It was sent to the governor with just one day left in the annual legislative session.

Republican Rep. Ralph Massullo, who co-sponsored the bill, said that children “need to come to a point where they realize their gender and are able to accept themselves.” Bill co-sponsor Republican Rep. Randy Fine likened gender-affirming care to child abuse.

Many studies show that gender-affirming care like hormone therapy and puberty blockers can improve kids’ well-being, including reducing depression and suicidal behavior.

Democrats argued the bill wasn’t needed, and that medical care is a decision that parents should make with children’s doctors. They also said that treatment for children and adults is critical.

“For many who receive this care, it is essential to their health and well-being,” said Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani. “They just want to be their authentic selves and access the health care they need to do so.”

DeSantis, who has prominently taken on LBGTQ rights issues, supports the legislation. DeSantis has also pushed for restrictions on gender and sexuality lessons in schools, a ban on trans girls and women from school sports, and he has made it easier for parents to block school books with LGBTQ subjects.