As Florida remains embroiled in legislative debate and fear, lawmakers continue to advance contentious bills seemingly aimed at attacking LGBTQ+ communities. But not without emotional pleas.
During a Florida Senate committee meeting Thursday, Sen. Victor Torres, D-Orlando, called for opposition to the state’s bill (SB 254), which ultimately passed, aimed at criminalizing and blocking gender-affirming care for trans youth.
“I hear this and I wonder, why are we doing this again? Why are we going after children?” Torres asked.
Torres, whose granddaughter is trans, urged the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee to oppose the bill.
“Does my love change because the child is transgender? Not one bit. It goes more. Why? Because you want to show support. You want to encourage a child, what they dream of, what they want to do,” Torres said.
“I’m a grandfather to a transgender granddaughter… I’m proud of my family. I’m proud of what we stand for.”
Powerful testimony today from Senator @VicTorres_FL against the bill to criminalize medical care for trans youth (SB 254). pic.twitter.com/2pONiH6g88
— Equality Florida (@equalityfl) March 24, 2023
The sweeping measure would prohibit doctors from providing gender-affirming care to trans minors. That now includes youths who have already begun transitioning and are receiving treatment such as puberty blockers or hormone therapy.
Further, the measure would block health-insurance companies from covering gender-reassignment surgeries and would prohibit telehealth appointments for trans adults. It would also allow only doctors — not nurse practitioners — to write prescriptions for hormone-replacement treatments for adults.
Bill sponsor Sen. Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville, said in the meeting that the bill is intended to protect children and parents.
“Every single person was created with extraordinary, incredible value and has a unique purpose, and this has been true about you since before you were born and you can’t change it,” Yarborough said.
A House committee on Wednesday advanced an even more extensive measure (HB 1421) that would ban health-insurance companies from covering gender-reassignment surgeries, among other restrictions.
Earlier this month, Sen. Torres was left a threatening voicemail message brimming with profanity and racial slurs, as reported in the Orlando Sentinel. The caller left a nearly one-minute-long voice message in which he angrily ranted about the senator’s opposition to a bill that would fine credit card companies if they tracked firearm sales in Florida.
Torres blamed the “divisive, partisan” agenda of recent legislation for the threatening call.
The Senate committee voted along party lines to approve SB 254.