LGBTQ rights supporters protest against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on November 6, 2022 in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo: GIORGIO VIERA/AFP via Getty Images)
A GOP lawmaker in Florida introduced a bill that will force businesses that pay for gender-affirming care to also pay for subsequent detransitions, in a bid to further restrict access to life-saving healthcare for transgender people.The “Reverse Woke Act,” or SB 952, would force businesses that cover gender-affirming care to be financially responsible for subsequent detransitions, even for employees who no longer work for the company.
Introduced by Republican Sen. Blaise Ingoglia on Monday, the bill would require any employer that funds out-of-state travel for workers to access gender-affirming care will also be liable. “Woke businesses need to be held accountable when offering to pay for gender affirming surgeries in other states, such as California, because they are nothing more than political decisions masquerading as healthcare and human resource decisions,” Ingoglia said in a statement.At least 27 companies in Florida have reportedly voiced a commitment to pay for gender-affirming care and related travel. According to the proposed bill, any company that fails to cover requested detransitions can be sued for damages incurred by the employee.“If an employer or former employer, as applicable, refuses to cover the total costs associated with treatment to reverse gender dysphoria treatment it initially covered for an employee, the employee… may file a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction to recover from the employer or former employer, as applicable, the actual total costs associated with such treatment as well as any damages incurred by the person as a result of the employer’s noncompliance with this section,” the bill says. It will be considered when the legislative session starts March 7.
If passed, the legislation could dissuade businesses from supporting their trans workers, experts say, and follows a long and relentless GOP-backed attack on trans rights.Studies show that gender-affirming care isn’t harmful; it’s life-saving. Trans people are more likely to experience mental health struggles, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, and thoughts of suicide, than cisgender people. Nearly half of all LGBTQ youth have seriously considered suicide. But, experts say, some of these issues can be mitigated with gender-affirming care, which includes puberty blockers and other therapies. These interventions, endorsed by several major national medical associations, are safe and effective, and are correlated with better mental health outcomes for trans people.De-transitioning is also extremely rare, with studies showing that an average of 97 percent of trans people say they’re happy with their transition. Of the people who voice some regret, even fewer actually reverse their transitions, and those who do usually do it because of stigma and societal pressures from family, school, or work—not because they themselves want to de-transition. The most common drivers for detransitioning were lack of familial support, poor workplace environments, harassment, and discrimination, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. The “Reverse Woke Act”—not to be confused with Florida’s “Stop Woke Act,” which restricts learning about race relations and diversity in schools—is the latest “anti-woke” legislation in Florida, a state known for its hostility towards trans people. It piles onto the state’s slew of anti-LGBTQ policymaking, including a gender-affirming care ban for minors and a ban on dozens of books in school, many of which include LGBTQ themes. Gov. Ron DeSantis also recently requested information about trans students who sought care at state universities. Follow Anya Zoledziowski on Twitter.