Will Florida’s latest set of anti-trans laws allow the state to kidnap trans kids?
Florida’s SB 254 was just signed into law on May 17, 2023. Provisions in this bill allow the state to temporarily take custody of trans children in custody disputes from out of state. This would halt any medical care that the child may be receiving or slated to receive, such as puberty blockers, on the grounds that the child is at risk of physical harm. The child would remain under the state’s care until the dispute is resolved in the other state.
While Florida does not have the absolute power to remove children from their homes, this bill threatens the wellbeing — and lives — trans children whose parents are in a custody dispute. Halting care can bring about unwanted physical changes in the child, which can cause significant distress and even suicidal ideation. In short, even under these conditions, Florida’s latest anti-trans law has the potential to have widespread impacts on trans kids across the state.
I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not exactly sure how this will play out. However, I understand that Floridian family courts may not always understand the needs of trans children or have their best interests at heart. Not only that, but this bill puts physicians and other providers, even those who practice out of state, at the mercy of Floridian judges. They may be unable to administer appropriate care without the threat of Florida’s courts removing the child from their home.
Critics of this bill have said that these measures amount to state-sanctioned kidnapping. In addition to that, it forces parents in custody disputes to choose between declining or halting appropriate care for their child or potentially losing custody. Both have the potential to have devastating effects on the child in the dispute.