Florida representative files bill to criminalize gender-affirming surgeries for transgender youth

Doctors who perform surgeries could face criminal penalties

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Wilfredo Lee, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

CLERMONT, Fla. – Rep. Anthony Sabatini filed legislation on Wednesday that could prosecute doctors who perform gender-affirming surgeries on transgender children.

Under the bill, doctors who perform surgeries such as a vasectomy, sterilization, mastectomy or vaginoplasty could receive criminal penalties. Hormone blockers and hormone therapy that use testosterone or estrogen would also be criminalized.

The only exclusion to the legislation would be if a person was born intersex. In that case, parents are allowed to move forward with surgery that could change their child’s sex.

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The bill states: “This section does not apply to a healthcare practitioner acting in accordance with a good faith medical decision of a parent or guardian of a minor born with a medically verifiable genetic disorder of sex development.”

“No parent should be allowed to sterilize, castrate, or permanently disfigure a child,” Sabatini said.

Heather Wilkie, executive director of the Zebra Coalition, said that there needs to be more education for the general population to understand the nuances with gender-affirming surgery, especially when intersex individuals can also identify as transgender or nonbinary.

“It’s a complete double-standard. He’s trying to pick and choose who can receive gender-affirming surgery,” Wilkie said. “It’s more complex than saying, ‘This population can get surgery, but this population can’t.’”

Sabatini also filed the bill in February 2021, but it died in Florida’s Professions & Public Health Subcommittee in April 2021.

He said that he was encouraged to refile the legislation after Gov. Ron DeSantis pledged the support of any future bill that would ban gender-affirming surgeries for transgender children during an interview with the Daily Caller in June 2021.

“This has always been the right thing to do; it should’ve been passed years ago. This is a bipartisan-common sense bill,” Sabatini said.

Rep. Anna V. Eskamani said that this bill will set the tone for the 2022 legislation session and that it’s a threat that should be taken seriously and mobilized against.

“It’s disgusting; it’s a slap in the face to trans kids and parents. What’s so arrogant is that it’s supposed to be about trans kids’ safety, but it gets in the way of doctors and parents who want best for their kids,” Eskamani said. “He’s saying he doesn’t want parents or kids to make these decisions, but it’s OK for a politician to decide?”

“I’m against the forced castration and sterilization of children—anyone who disagrees with that is mentally insane,” Sabatini said.

Similar legislation has been passed in 22 other states, including Florida, such as Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Texas.

This latest transgender bill comes after DeSantis signed controversial legislation that would ban transgender female athletes from competing on a high school and college level.

About the Author:

Melissa Perez-Carrillo joined News 6 in September.