"Rest assured that the passage of this discriminatory bill would have a detrimental and real-life impact on the trans community," said one Florida ACLU leader.
The ACLU of Florida on Friday led condemnation of a bill passed by the Republican-controlled lower chamber of the state Legislature that "seeks to deny the legal existence of transgender individuals by requiring individuals to identify as their sex assigned at birth instead of their gender on their driver's licenses and ID cards."
Dubbed the Trans Erasure Bill by opponents, H.B. 1639 passed by a vote of 75-33. The ACLU notes that the legislation "also requires health plans to cover the widely discredited practice of conversion therapy and creates additional obstacles for health plans to cover gender-affirming care."
"H.B. 1639 is harmful, vague, and does nothing to improve the lives of Floridians," ACLU of Florida policy strategist NR Hines said in a statement. "It is eerily silent on the consequences for transgender individuals who identify their gender on their driver's license or other government-issued identification instead of their sex assigned at birth."
"It weaponizes state agencies and private insurance companies to threaten the safety and inclusion of transgender people," they asserted. "It is a cruel bill aimed at erasing transgender Floridians out of public life entirely. We have deep concerns about the life-altering impacts on the trans community."
Last month, we learned of the death of a transgender student after they experienced violence on school grounds in Oklahoma. Nex Benedict should still be alive today. While this violence didn't occur in Florida, the fear and hate towards trans people that some elected officials are spreading directly leads to these unsafe situations.
Rest assured that the passage of this discriminatory bill would have a detrimental and real-life impact on the trans community. Thankfully, there is currently no Senate companion bill, and Senate leadership has stated the bill will not be heard.
"We hope this remains true," Hines added. "Trans people belong and deserve the freedom to be who they are."
LGBTQ+ rights—and especially trans rights—are under attack across the country. The ACLU is currently tracking 471 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in a majority of states, including 11 pieces of proposed legislation in Florida.
Last year, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a failed GOP presidential candidate, signed a bundle of bills that activists condemned as the most extreme slate of anti-trans laws in modern history. Among these were S.B. 254, which bans gender-affirming care for minors, while prohibiting nurse practitioners from providing such healthcare to adults.
Last June, federal Judge Robert Hinkle temporarily blocked the enforcement of certain provisions of S.B. 254, saying they constituted "purposeful discrimination" against transgender people.
DeSantis also signed H.B. 1069, which expands the so-called "Don't Say Gay or Trans" law to prohibit educators from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-12.
H.B. 1521 empowers cisgender people to order transgender people to leave publicly available restrooms—in places including airports, sports arenas, convention centers, beaches, parks, and public and even private healthcare and educational institutions—or face criminal trespass charges that could result in up to a year behind bars for those who refuse to comply.
The Human Rights Campaign—the largest LGBTQ+ political advocacy group in the United States—issued a first-ever national emergency declaration for LGBTQ+ people last June, citing the torrent of discriminatory and dangerous legislation emerging from Republican-controlled legislatures across the country.