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Florida Republicans propose ‘fascist’ bill to remove trans kids from parents’ custody

Florida Republicans are under fire for a slate of bills targeting transgender youth, including a proposal to allow courts to take custody over trans kids that’s been called “fascist” by its critics.

On Friday, GOP lawmakers submitted SB254, which allows the state to seize custody of children when they “at risk” or “being subjected” to gender-affirming medical care, including from families where the child at question may reside outside of Florida.

Critics argued the bill was a legislative attempt to erase trans people.

“I can’t believe I’m writing this,” Carlos Guillermo Smith, a former House lawmaker, and the state’s first Latino LGTBQ representative, wrote on Twitter on Friday, “This is fascist.”

Alejandra Caraballo, a former staff attorney at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, argued on Twitter that SB254 would empower anti-trans family members to seize children from potentially more supportive environments and find safe haven in Florida.

“This is a greenlight to transphobic family members to engage in state sponsored kidnapping,” she wrote.

Backers of the bill defended their effort.

“Parents have the right to raise their children as they see fit, and government intervention should be a last resort," Senate President Kathleen Passidomo said in a statement to WUSF. "Unfortunately, all too often we are hearing about treatments for gender dysphoria being administered to children, often very young children. That’s just wrong, and we need to step in and make sure it isn’t happening in our state.”

Other bills in the Florida legislature this session have sought to restrict bathroom access for trans people and make it illegal for doctors to provide gender-affirming medical care like puberty blockers and hormone treatments to minors.

The bills follow Governor Ron DeSantis’s approval last year of the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law, which forbid teaching about sexual or gender identity to younger children.

As The Independent has reported, Republican lawmakers across the country, following the lead of Florida, are seeking to pass what the Human Rights Campaign called a “historically bad” slate of bills restricting access to transgender healthcare, inclusive literature, and quality education about sexual and gender identity.