Florida GOP Advances Bathroom Bill Targeting Transgender People’s Rights

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By Giselle Balido

April 12, 2023

Even as members of the trans community expressed their fear that the bill would result in transgender harassment, a Republican representative called those who testified against it “mutants from another planet.”

Florida Republicans’ controversial “bathroom bill,” a measure limiting how transgender people can use bathroom facilities according to reproductive function, has moved a step closer to becoming law.  

The bill (HB 1521), which was passed largely along party lines in the House Commerce Committee meeting on Tuesday, is now heading toward the full House floor for a vote.

Republican Rep. Rachel Saunders Plakon of Lake Mary introduced the bill to, ostensibly, promote “common decency standards in public spaces [and to] to protect women and children from assault” in bathrooms.  

RELATED: A New Florida GOP Bill Could Make It Legal for Parents to Kidnap Their Trans Kids

In claiming that her bill would protect children and women from transgender people, Plakon embraced a false right-wing talking point that has been used to target the rights and freedoms of trans people. In reality, trans youth are more likely to be assaulted when their right to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity is restricted.

Among other measures, Plakon’s Facility Requirements Based on Sex bill:

  • Requires exclusive use of restrooms and changing facilities according to sex assigned at birth; 
  • Prohibits willfully entering a restroom or changing facility designated for the opposite sex & refusing to depart when asked to do so; 
  • Requires exclusive use of domestic violence centers by gender, meaning a trans woman could not go to a domestic violence center for women.

The bill also provides an exception for individuals born with certain genetically or biochemically verifiable disorders of sex development, such as “intersex” individuals who have characteristics of both genders.

If it becomes law, HB 1521 would make it a second-degree misdemeanor for someone older than 18 to willfully enter a public restroom or changing facility designated for the opposite sex. 

Fears from the Trans Community

Kate Danehy-Samitz, co-founder of Women’s Voices of Southwest Florida, spoke before the committee and argued that the bill would cause suffering among the LGBTQ community. She also accused Republicans of advancing the legislation to help Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential ambitions in 2024.

RELATED: DeSantis Targets the Freedom and Privacy of Students, Asks Universities to Hand Over Transgender Medical Treatment Data

“You don’t know what it means to be trans or nonbinary and, like your führer, you fear what you don’t understand,” said Danehy-Samitz.

But even after she and others present expressed their fears that the bill would result in transgender harassment, Republican Rep. Webster Barnaby of Deltona called those who testified against it “mutants from another planet.” After the vote, Barnaby apologized for his remarks.

A Senate version of the bill (SB 1674) has one more committee stop before reaching the full Senate floor.

Following Gov. DeSantis’ lead, Republican lawmakers across the country are seeking to pass a slate of bills restricting access to transgender health care as well as education about sexual and gender identity. Nearly 500 anti-trans bills have been introduced nationwide in 2023 already, according to the Trans Legislation Tracker.



  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.



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