By Saul Myhre, Alliance Intern from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities
In May, Gov Ron DeSantis passed a flurry of bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community and their way of life. According to Gallup and The Pew Research Center, most Americans support same-sex marriage (71%) and the protection of trans individuals (64%). Despite the support, Florida passed bills banning gender-affirming care and “barring educators from teaching students about gender and sexuality,” according to HuffPost. Unfortunately for DeSantis, this legislation is strengthening the bond of LGBTQ+ citizens and allies alike.
Trans organizers are fighting back against DeSantis. Billy Branca, a trans activist living in St. Petersburg, said, “I think that in trying to erase us, Ron DeSantis accidentally created the most powerful resistance that he could ever imagine.” Trans activists are dismantling roadblocks to gender-affirming surgery by creating an “up-to-date ‘how-to’ for trans youth and adults” looking for healthcare and mental health resources.
“It’s absolutely terrifying to go to a Pride event now, but it’s something where I don’t know if there’s anything else that could give me so much joy and healing,” says Sage Rosenberg, a non-binary drag performer. According to Huff Post, after the legislation passed, Florida has seen record participation at Pride events, an increase in LGBTQ+ people running for office and multiple student-led walkouts. The fear DeSantis is trying to instill to keep marginalized communities in the shadows has only thrust them into the spotlight.
Vyn Suazion, a trans man and drag performer from Tarpon Springs feels despite living in a county that was “once owned by the Ku Klux Klan,” many conservatives in his community “agree that what is happening to the LGBTQ community is unconstitutional.” LGBTQ+ education and exposure in these communities have helped turn the public perception. How one expresses themself is not anyone else’s business, especially not that of a government that was founded on ideals of personal freedoms and sovereignty.
80% of trans adults in Florida get their gender-affirming care from nurse practitioners, but this is no longer possible, according to HuffPost. DeSantis wishes to “model the rest of the country after Florida” in his presidential bid, but it is up to LGTBQ+ members and supporters alike to assure this won’t be the case in 2024. Brandon Wolf from Equality Florida states, “What happens in Florida often drives the conversation around the country,” and if that remains true, the LGBTQ+ community will continue to come together and fight for the rights of all.