ORLANDO, Fla. – Concern is growing in the LGBTQ community after Florida lawmakers added language to restrict adults in transgender care in a bill meant to ban trans-youth treatments.
“My mind immediately went into what’s next are these people going to try and put us on an island by ourselves now,” said Mulan Montrese Williams with Divas in Dialogue, an Orlando-based nonprofit focusing on helping the trans community.
Her reaction comes as Senate Bill 254 passed through the fiscal policy committee this week, headed for a second reading in the Florida Senate.
Both the Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine banned trans-youth treatments earlier this year.
The bill would put those rules into law. But the bill also adds additional restrictions for adults by prohibiting telehealth appointments and making it so only doctors write prescriptions for adult hormone-replacement treatments.
The language can be seen on page 7 of the bill which states in part, “If sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures are prescribed for or administered or performed on patients 18 years of age or older, consent must be voluntary, informed, and in writing on forms approved by the department. Consent to sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures is voluntary and informed only if the physician who is to prescribe or administer the pharmaceutical product or perform the procedure has, at a minimum, while physically present in the same room.”
“I am just so scared of folks going back to black market, you know black market hormones offline, black market silicone to get breasts and things like that,” Williams said. “It’s not safe for us, but when a person wants something so bad, they’re going to get it.”
News 6 brought the bill to the Mental Health Association of Central Florida. Its CEO and President Marni Stahlman said, “By eliminating telehealth you are again limiting and discriminating when other groups are afforded that same equal opportunity.”
Stahlman says the trans community is already dealing with increased rates of mental health issues.
The Trevor Project, a nonprofit focusing on suicide prevention in LGBTQ youth, reports a 2022 study where 45% of LGBTQ youth said they seriously considered suicide.
Stahlman said the language in the bill can be seen as an equity issue.
“If I am permitted as a woman to get my individual health care via telehealth, why shouldn’t another group or why is another group rather being limited or discriminated against in their attempt to seek the same?” said Stahlman.
Williams said the trans community will not stop fighting. “Unfortunately it’s like the attacks are and it’s like non-stop.”
A campaign is now underway from drag entertainers across the state to showcase stories behind performers.
This is in reaction to a separate bill, House Bill 1423 set to ban children from adult live performances.
“We are in the fight for our lives,” Williams said. “More than ever we need the entire community to stand with us and register to vote.”
News 6 did reach out to the bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Clay Yarborough through phone and email, but has not heard back.
This bill is set to go through a second reading before it makes its way to the state senate floor.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, texting “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or going to 988lifeline.org.
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