Ron DeSantis has also made a name for himself on the national stage almost exclusively by attacking trans and queer people, particularly but not exclusively trans children. Looking at Florida in 2022 is one way to see what the United States could become if Ron DeSantis were president. The answer, of course, is that the persecution of queer and trans people will quickly become a central strategy for the Republican base, fueling American conservatism.
Readers are likely familiar with at least some of the policies introduced under the DeSantis administration: “Don Say Gay,” for example, which effectively stopped teachers from bringing up queer and trans identities in the classroom. Florida is also one of several states that voted to ban gender-affirming health care for trans people under the age of 18. This will be the first meeting in the country to do so.
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The “hearing” prior to that vote was more or less a show trial.
Trans people and advocates reported not being allowed to speak, while one of the “medical experts” called in to argue against gender-affirming care was a dentist. The ban, if and when applicable, will be lifted. It is not limited to prohibiting minors from beginning their medical transition. It also revokes health care coverage for teens who have already been approved for a transplant and are receiving puberty blockers or hormones from their doctors.
That is to say: Florida is setting a precedent by forcibly removing health care from trans people, even if their doctors have concluded that transition is the best course of treatment. This precedent will not only affect minors. Across the country, the proposed legal age for trans care has been rising steadily since the ban was first introduced: anti-trans forces started by focusing on “children,” then aimed to ban trans care. gender affirmation for patients under the age of 18 and now, in Missouri, advocates have proposed limiting it to anyone under the age of 25. This makes it highly likely that, at some point in the future, trans adults will be forcibly relocated.
This is not the end of the bad news. This is where I say two words you never want to see together: “trans record.”
Multiple sources have reported that the Florida Medical Board has recommended the idea of creating a registry of all trans minors in the state, possibly to ensure none of them are receiving prohibited medical treatment.
We know what happens when the state starts enumerating and monitoring a despised minority population, and it’s horrible. It’s so terrifying, in fact, that the reasonable instinct is to doubt it’s happening, so it’s usually best to assume you’re not actually living through a WWII documentary and/or X-Men movie, unless the circumstances prove the contrary.
But “saying no to homosexuals” seemed unthinkable before. Moral panics about trans youth were just annoying until they started dictating policy. In 2012, no reasonable liberal would have predicted the resurgence of 1980s-style homophobia portraying queer teachers as “hairdressers,” nor would anyone from the pre-Stonewall era. it is expected to return. But in 2022, all of those things are happening. The attacks have escalated so rapidly that it is difficult to set reasonable expectations. Nothing seems too bad to be true.