Florida, like many states, has spent the last year or so tilting at windmills in service of making life harder for trans Floridians. On top of a misinformation-fueled panic around the idea of discussing orientation and gender identity in schools, the state has pushed to make it impossible for trans athletes to compete and attempting to take healthcare away from minors and adults who hope to transition.
At the heart of this offensive is bigotry against LGBTQ people, but it pulls its energy and resources from fundamental misunderstandings of trans peoples' experiences and healthcare. In the most recent episode of his comedy news show Last Week Tonight, John Oliver tore those points down and exposed them as nothing more than hateful horseshit.
In particular, Oliver focused on the Republican notion that gender-affirming care amounts exclusively to irreversible surgery being carried out on minors who may one day regret. Doctors and their representative agencies have repeatedly told trans-panickers that nothing could be further from the truth.
"To hear some tell it, as soon as a child declares themselves trans, there is an immediate, irreversible surgical decision undertaken. And there just isn't," Oliver said. "Not only is [surgery] incredibly rare. It...would only happen after a team of medical professionals discussed all of the risks and benefits with their patients and their patients' parent or guardian, all of whom would have to sign off."
Trans care for prepubscent minors is largely about social support. Once they reach the age of puberty, their development of secondary sex characteristics can be blocked with prescriptions. This prevents the horror of a young person seeing their body develop into something they do not recognize as themselves. Crucially, it is reversible as puberty will occur if the medications are ceased.
Surgical interventions among minors are extremely rare and, like all medical decisions, only occur with a doctor's recommendation after a long period of discussing the idea with both the trans minor in question and their parents.
"No kid is casually dropping into an operating room because they just decided to get their uterus removed with the impulsive recklessness normally associated with getting bangs," Oliver said.
Nevertheless, Florida politicians continue to advocate for making life miserable for trans kids and adults. The Florida Department of Health went against established medical norms to warn doctors against gender-affirming care for minors. Gov. Ron DeSantis has said that public school teachers are brainwashing children into switching genders and has argued that doctors who provide gender-affirming care should be sued. Central Florida Rep. Randy Fine has advocated for making such care illegal.
Beyond that, the state has ruled that healthcare for transgender adults will not be covered under federally distributed funds for Medicaid.
Oliver pushed back against the sudden rash of anti-trans panic and laws by noting that the historical record shows "ample evidence" that transgender people have always existed.
"As far back as historians have found evidence of trans people, they've found trans children," Oliver said, noting that a purported 'rapid rise' in trans children is more about them being able to do so publicly. "It means people [are] free to be who they fucking [are].