Florida Could Strip Parental Rights from Parents Who Seek Gender-Affirming Care for Their Transgender Child

Florida Could Strip Parental Rights from Parents Who Seek Gender-Affirming Care for Their Transgender Child

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By Giselle Balido

May 5, 2023

The measure that Democratic legislators are calling “fascist” and “dangerous” is on its way to Gov. DeSantis, who is expected to sign it.

Should the state be permitted to take a child away from a parent, simply because it does not agree with the parent’s health care decisions for their child? Apparently, Florida Republicans think so.

The Florida Legislature on Thursday passed a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors and restrict access for adults. Notably, SB 254 would also allow Florida courts to make temporary custody decisions for children who are receiving gender-affirming care such as puberty blockers or hormone replacement therapy, if the original custody order is from another state. 

In other words, if a child is receiving gender-affirming care in another state or could feasibly get it in the future, and one parent disagrees with that decision, they could ask the state of Florida to overrule another state’s custody decision and strip parental rights from their co-parent.

While the state that issued the original custody agreement would have the final say, opponents of the bill are worried that it could effectively allow individuals who disagree with a co-parent or ex-spouse’s decision to allow gender-affirming care for their child to bring their kid to Florida and ask the state to take custody away from their co-parent. 

The measure passed both the Senate and the House almost entirely along party lines and is now headed to the desk of Gov. DeSantis, who has expressed support of the bill and is expected to sign it into law. The bill will go into effect as soon as it is signed.

“It’s Not Liberty”

“This law essentially states that the state can seize, can kidnap a child if they’re ‘at risk’. I don’t think this should be allowed in any circumstances,” US Rep. Maxwell Frost, who has openly called Gov. Ron DeSantis “a fascist,” told Floricua. “Once again, it’s not freedom, it’s not liberty. [DeSantis] is acting like a dictator.”

RELATED: Republican Bill Would Allow Doctors to Deny Care on Moral or Religious Grounds

SB 254 would also give the state the ability to:

  • Punish providers who provide gender-affirming care by taking away their licenses and inflicting criminal penalties (including felony penalties). 
  • Prohibit public insurance programs from covering gender-affirming care for transgender youth or adults. 
  • Ban public funds—from a public university, public hospital, city or county—and Medicare, from being used to provide benefits that include gender-affirming care for transgender people of all ages. 

Against Medical Recommendation

This ban contradicts guidelines recommended by every major medical association, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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

The ban also places a dangerous burden on trans and nonbinary children, who face high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Letting them use puberty blockers, hormones, and gender-affirming surgeries, has been linked to improving their mental health, studies say.

“This bill prevents parents from being able to access best-practice, potentially life-saving health care supported by the entire American medical establishment on behalf of their children,” said Cathryn Oakley, Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel. 

Support for LGBTQ+ Rights Is on the Rise

Despite Gov. DeSantis’ and Republicans’ attacks on the LGBTQ community, 80% of Florida residents support nondiscrimination protections, and 66% of Florida residents oppose refusal of service to LGBTQ individuals on religious grounds, according to the latest data this year from PRRI.



  • 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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