Transgender rights advocates in Florida on Tuesday chose a new method of getting their anti-bigotry message across to Florida Republicans—dropping dozens of pairs of underwear on the heads of lawmakers who were at the state House debating three bills aimed at removing transgender and nonbinary people from public life.
The underwear was emblazoned with messages including, "Leave my genitals alone" and "Fascism has no place in Florida, stop trans genocide," and was thrown into the chamber from a balcony as Republicans spoke in favor of H.B. 1421, which would ban gender-affirming care for minors; H.B. 1521, which would require transgender people to use public bathrooms that correspond to their sex assigned at birth, and S.B. 1438, which would prohibit drag performances in the presence of children.
The Republicans' support for the legislation transformed the Florida House into what Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby (D-62) called a "thunderdome of hate."
"You're... stripping [trans people] of their legal right to be recognized as the identity they live in every day," she told Republicans in the House.
Rights activists representing Women's Voices Southwest Florida demanded that the Republicans hear their message, dropping the underwear on the heads of several GOP lawmakers including state Rep. Rachel Plakon (R-36), the lead sponsor of H.B. 1521.
Rep. Spencer Roach (R-76) posted a photo of one pair of underwear that denounced "trans genocide," calling the rights advocates "radical trans-activists."
"How can this dude post this, and only be focused on the underwear?!" said one nonbinary critic. "He is literally openly saying he DOES NOT CARE about trans people killing themselves. Get this man out of office, Florida."
One study from the University of Washington showed in 2022 that gender-affirming care can reduce suicide risk for transgender and nonbinary youths by 73%.
Earlier this month, Florida Rep. Webster Barnaby (R-27) used words including "demons" and "mutants" to describe transgender people, comparing the community to "the X-Men movies or Marvel Comics."
In response, Rep. Angie Nixon (D-14) noted during the debate on Tuesday that the X-Men characters "were created as an ode to civil rights leaders that were being attacked, who wanted to fight for equity, diversity, and inclusion," and proposed an amendment to the drag show ban legislation that would exempt performers dressed as the X-Men.
The amendment was shot down by the GOP as "not worthy" of debate and, like more than a dozen amendments proposed by Democrats to the bills, was not added to the legislation.
The debate and protest took place as Republican-controlled legislatures across the country adopt bans on gender-affirming healthcare for minors as well as adults.
Ten states in the past three months have passed laws prohibiting puberty blockers, transition surgery, and hormonal treatment for people under age 18. In Missouri, an order set to take effect on April 27 will impose severe restrictions on gender-affirming care for minors as well as adults, requiring at least three years of medical documentation of gender dysphoria.
The Florida state House is set to vote on the three pieces of legislation on Wednesday.