Pending Florida legislation could impact the custody rights of parents who do not agree about gender-affirming care for transgender children. Proponents of the bill say it will protect children from life-changing gender dysphoria treatments.
Opponents claim the bill will allow disputing parents to kidnap children, even when the parents live in different states.
What the bill will do
If Senate Bill 254 passes, it will give Florida courts temporary control over children present in Florida if they have either received or could receive gender-affirming care. This could allow the court to take physical custody of a child or award physical custody of a child to the other parent if it believes the child is “under threat” of receiving sex-reassignment procedures or prescriptions. The court could do this even if there is an existing out-of-state custody agreement.
Arguments against the bill
Civil rights organizations say that the bill threatens the lives of trans children in Florida. Opponents call the bill government overreach into the private medical decisions of parents and children. They also say the bill amounts to the “legal kidnapping” of children by non-custodial parents who disagree with providing gender-affirming care.
While this legislation is still pending, parents who have transgender children may want to review their rights and legal options for protecting their custody rights and their rights to make healthcare decisions for their children. This is particularly true if the non-custodial parent does not believe the child should receive gender-affirming care or there is an existing custody dispute.