Trans activists march on Florida capital as erasure bill dies

Author: Jacob Ogles

Transgender activists from across Florida marched on the state Capitol with a simple demand: “Let Us Live!”

At a rally on the steps outside the building on Wednesday, LGBTQ leaders and progressive lawmakers slammed legislation threatening to erase trans identities. Beyond fighting transphobic bills, trans leaders and allies also promised to seek office and sit more queer lawmakers in the halls of the Capitol to fight RepublicanGov. Ron DeSantis’ anti-LGBTQ policies.

“We’re here today to show you that we exist and all we ask for is acceptance, respect, and for you to acknowledge our visibility here at this time,” said Angelique Godwin, Transaction Special Events Coordinator for Equality Florida and a trans woman.

As it happens, the rally coincided with a positive legislative development. The event was scheduled a day before the Florida House planned to take up a bill that would prohibit a change in gender on driver’s licenses after a transition, as well as requiring insurance companies the cover gender corrective surgery doing the same for detransitioning.

Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo told reporters that legislation was dead in the Senate.

“That bill is still stuck in committee,” Passidomo said, “and so, pursuant to our rules, we don’t take bills. We don’t do the cards or ever take bills out of committee.”

Of note, DeSantis has effectively already implemented the driver’s license rules in the bill through administrative action. The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles last month rescinded a rule allowing individuals to alter their driver’s licenses when they transition.

Still, activists treated news the Legislature won’t enshrine that policy in law this year as a win.

“We won this fight, but it’s not over until it’s over,” said Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani. “Anything can happen in this Capitol until Sine Die.”

Democratic Sen. Shevrin Jones suggested the activism of LGBTQ activists made a difference in killing the bill. But he also suggested legislation like that would have less runway if more LGBTQ officials held seats in the Legislation. He’s currently the only out member of the Florida Senate.

“I’m happy to have the opportunity to sit in the Senate and to continue to bring it up, to make it clear that the LGBTQ issue, that the LGBTQ community, will no longer continue to be the punching bag of the Florida Legislature,” he said.

Activists said the fight against erasure was critical but not new. Barbie Mugler, executive director of Trans United In Elevation’s Tampa Chapter and one of several trans people of color at the march, characterized the fight for the state to recognize gender minorities was an extension of past civil rights struggles.

“Denying individuals like me basic fundamental rights such as access to adequate health care, job opportunities and identification that aligns with my current presentation is similar to the historic injustice of denying my ancestors their validation and recognition as complete individuals,” she said. “People like me not too long ago, despite being a person, was identified as three fifths of a person, despite being living, breathing human beings just like anyone else of that era. They were unfairly devalued, much like we are today.

“Declaring a person to be less than human is a despicable act.”

Quinn Diaz, Equality Florida Public Policy Associate, said it’s important for transgender individuals, along with their allies and accomplices, to show up in Tallahassee and confront lawmakers. But it’s also important in an election year to take that fight back home at the ballot box.

“We must continue to show up to every fight where our rights are on the line, show up here in Tallahassee, to every room our existence is being debated in, and to show up to the polls on Election Day and to challenge these seats,” they said. “It’s time for our state legislators to undo the harm they’ve caused and to work for the good of the states. And if they won’t, then we will.”

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Jacob Ogles

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