Florida lawmakers, advocates march in protest of anti-transgender legislation

Florida has passed a growing list of anti-LGBTQ policies in recent years.

February 28, 2024, 11:28 AM

Hundreds of transgender and nonbinary Floridians and allies are expected to march through the state capital in Tallahassee Wednesday in opposition to years-long legislative efforts targeting gender-diverse communities.

"As we march through the streets of Florida, let our collective voice echo: We will not be erased, legislated against, or silenced,” said Cielo Sunsarae, executive director of the Queer Trans Project.

Sunsarae continued, “To those who seek to strip away our rights, remember this: our existence is non-negotiable, our power unstoppable, and our unity unbreakable.”

The “Let Us Live March” is taking place as lawmakers in the Florida House prepare to consider HB 1639, which would require transgender people to have their sex assigned at birth listed on their driver’s licenses and ID cards, instead of listing their gender identity.

People protesting against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida lawmakers that passed anti-LGBTQ laws walk in the Stonewall Pride parade on June 17, 2023 in Wilton Manors, Fla.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images, FILE

The bill would also require health plans to cover what critics call "conversion therapy," the text of the bill says “therapeutic services to treat a person's perception that his or her sex is inconsistent with such person's sex at birth by affirming the insured's sex."

The bill also would force health plans that cover gender-affirming care to cover “detransition” procedures.

“It removes it from that subjective issue that is going on socially to something concrete medically,” said Rep. Douglas Bankson, the bill’s sponsor, according to local news outlet Bay News 9. “If someone were to be incapacitated or unable to communicate, it’s important for first responders for when seconds matter to know the underlying characteristics of their physiology.”

Critics say the ban on changes to gender markers could lead to confusion, harassment, and discrimination against transgender people. For example, they say if records list a trans person as a gender they don’t live by, it could be difficult to identify them.

“Politicians are not only trying to censor and erase the very existence of trans individuals, but they are also forcing individuals to choose between their gender identity or lawfully driving,” said Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel at the ACLU of Florida.

Florida State Sen. Shevrin Jones, along with Broward Supervisor of Elections Joe Scott and civil rights activists, holds a press conference on May 7, 2021, at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office in Lauderhill, Fla.
South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images, FILE

Local legislators State Sen. Shevrin Jones and House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell will be among those criticizing the state’s actions in Wednesday’s march and rally.

"Real leaders look out for the safety and well-being of ALL people, not just some," said Jones in a May 2023 statement on anti-LGBTQ legislation in the state. "The people of Florida are looking for results and action from their elected officials, not division and attacks on our freedoms."

In a 2022 ABC News/Ipsos poll, 62% of those surveyed opposed "legislation that would prohibit classroom lessons about sexual orientation or gender identity in elementary school."

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign visit ahead of the South Carolina presidential primary in Myrtle Beach, SC., Jan 20, 2024.
Randall Hill/Reuters, FILE

Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state officials have continuously implemented legislation and policies that impact the LGBTQ community in the administration’s self-proclaimed war against "woke" beliefs.

This includes the 2022 Parental Rights in Education which restricts the inclusion of LGBTQ content in schools, bans on gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth, a trans bathroom ban and more.

DeSantis signed the legislation to allow "kids to be kids."

"I feel very strongly as governor but also just as a dad of a 6, a 5, and a 3-year-old that we need to let our kids just be kids and we have a very crazy age that we live in -- there's a lot of nonsense that gets floated around. And what we've said in Florida is, we are going to remain a refuge of sanity and a citadel of normalcy," DeSantis said.