*UPDATED* Florida Senate Bill 254 that could take trans kids from parents, makes it to Governor’s desk


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signing Senate Bill 524 April 25, 2022. Photo via: flgov.smugmug.com

Hayden Dennis (he/him), Staff Writer

UPDATE: As of May 17, 2023 Governor Ron DeSantis signed this bill into law.

On March 3, 2023, Florida Senator Clay Yarborough introduced Senate Bill 254. This bill would allow the courts of Florida to grant “emergency jurisdiction over a child” if the child is being “subjected” to a sex change operation, prescriptions, and/or procedures. This means that if the child is having a sex change operation, Florida courts could take them away from their parents. This bill also includes new laws for healthcare providers that impact how easily they can give gender affirming care, and additionally how transgender healthcare is covered by public healthcare plans.

As it stands now, the bill has made it through both the Florida Senate and House, leaving the bill for Governor Ron DeSantis to ultimately sign off on. The bill would become effective upon it being adopted into law. 

Although this bill does not directly affect the people here in Oregon, it is a prime example of how laws and policies can drastically differ across the United States. Here in Oregon, there are numerous laws protecting trans people. The main protections in Oregon, though, are restricted to people with public health insurance. These include having sex reassignment as a part of the plan, ability to change gender on an Oregon birth certificate, allowing non-binary as a legal gender option for a legal ID and birth certificates, along with numerous others. But not every state has these same laws: Some have quite the opposite. Examples of this are Oklahoma’s Senate Bill 613, making it illegal for a minor to have a sex change operation, and potentially jeopardizing the provider’s license. Another is Utah’s Senate Bill 93, which makes it harder for someone to change their gender, amongst other things, on their birth certificate. 

Florida Senate Bill 254 is on a whole new level compared to many of the other bills across the country. Again, this bill would allow courts in the state of Florida to take a child from their parents or guardians if the child is having a sex change operation and is subjected to the prescriptions and/or procedures. 

The other important aspect of this bill is something similar to OK SB613, with adding new regulations and rules in regard to the legality of providing transgender healthcare, which could lead to harsh punishments for the providers. This bill would add new restrictions to healthcare providers when it comes to sex change operations, and if the restrictions are not followed, could lead to these practitioners losing their licenses to practice, or in extreme cases even going to jail. 

The third important part of this bill is the opposite of Oregon’s law to require government/public healthcare plans to consider transgender healthcare as a part of the plan. This bill would make it so that public healthcare plans given to government workers would not include transgender healthcare as a part of their plan. 

The language used in the bill is especially harsh, with it stating that a child being subjected to a sex change prescription or procedures is in “serious physical harm.” The language defines it as an emergency due to the child being “threatened with mistreatment or abuse.”

This bill is one of many anti-transgender/anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the state of Florida, but nonetheless is still one that will affect and hurt so many people and families. Kids will lose their parents and be placed into the adoption or foster care system, all because they are trying to express themselves as who they want to be.

While the intent behind this bill is not yet clear, besides it being another attack on the transgender community in Florida and the community as a whole, the bill passed relatively easily. The bill made it through the Health Policy and Fiscal Policy departments with margins of 8-3 and 13-6. In the House and Senate it was even more one sided with it passing the Senate 27-12 and in the House, 83-28. As of May 16th, this bill has reached the desk of Governor DeSantis, and if he signs off on it, it will become law.

While this bill is just one of many anti-trans bills in Florida alone, it is far from the last. Furthermore, knowing how easily this bill ended up passing, begs the question of how much further Florida Republicans intend to push these laws and how severe they may get.