Florida House takes up controversial transgender bill

The Florida House could give final approval to a controversial plan that would bar doctors and other healthcare providers from offering treatments such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy to transgender minors.  

The House is scheduled to take up the issue (HB 1421 and SB 254) during a floor session Tuesday. The Senate on April 4 passed its version of the bill. The plan would largely put into law rules approved by state medical boards to prevent doctors from providing the treatments to minors.

The Senate approved its version of the bill earlier this month. It aims to prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from undergoing the surgeries or prescription-based hormone therapies associated with gender-affirming care. 

The measure also bans universities, local governments, and state workers with Florida's Medicaid managed care program from using public dollars to cover the treatments.

The Senate version of the bill was approved on party lines and expands on similar policies enacted through new health care regulations pushed by Governor Ron DeSantis last year.

RELATED: Florida votes to ban gender-affirming care, treatments for transgender minors

The similar House bill would require children currently receiving gender-affirming care to discontinue it by December 31.

Supporters say it's protecting minors, but opponents of the bill feel the treatments are medically necessary, safe and effective. 

"I support the rights of fully informed adults who identify as transgender to pursue sex reassignment procedures," said Republican State Sen. Alexis Calatayud of Miami. "Similarly, I believe it is the responsibility of this body to protect children from life-altering and irreversible choices of which they cannot consent." 

RELATED: Florida Board of Medicine advances ban on transgender treatments for minors

"If they are unable to access care, then they have suicidal ideations," argued Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orlando. "Their self-esteem is low, and we should respect parents to make decisions for their families, with their kid."

Also during Tuesday’s floor session, the House is scheduled to consider a proposal (HB 1423 and SB 1438) aimed at preventing children from attending drag shows. The measure would prevent children from being admitted to an "adult live performance" and allow state regulators to immediately suspend or revoke licenses of restaurants, bars and other venues that violate the law.

READ: Gov. DeSantis issues proclamation declaring Sarasota swimmer 'real' winner over transgender athlete

While the proposal doesn’t specifically single out drag shows, it comes after Governor DeSantis’ administration took steps such as filing a complaint against the Hyatt Regency Miami hotel for hosting a "drag queen Christmas" event in December of last year, alleging minors were allowed to see the show.

Other Republican-led states have also targeted children going to drag shows. 

Here in Florida, state representative Randy Dine is the bill sponsor. Opponents of the legislation, including state representative Angie Nixon, argue parents should be able to make decisions about what events their children go to.

RELATED: Beauty pageant can ban transgender contestants, US appeals court rules

"People can love who they want to love. People can dress how the heck they want to dress. But I am some deviant parent? Are you kidding me? That is absurd," Rep. Nixon (D-Jacksonville) said.

The House is also scheduled to consider a proposal (HB 1521) that seeks to prevent transgender men and women from using bathrooms that don’t line up with their sex assigned at birth. Debate about the bill made national headlines when Republican Rep. Webster Barnaby called transgender people "demons" and "mutants" in a hearing.

Transgender people and allies were at the public hearing on Monday to share their stories in opposition to the bill when Barnaby made his comments.

"I'm looking at society today and it's like I'm watching an X-Men movie … it's like we have mutants living among us on planet Earth," Barnaby said.

READ: Bay Area family moving out of Florida after new law restricts gender-affirming care for transgender youth

The comments stunned lawmakers and eventually, a few minutes later, Barnaby apologized. 

His remarks have been blasted online across the board.

From lawmakers, non-profits, and even the sheriff of Volusia County, who called Barnaby an embarrassment to the state of Florida and that he isn't fit to represent his community.