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Equality Florida mobilizes trans protesters in Tallahassee

Written by on Saturday, March 2, 2024

Driver’s license bill stalls; four of 20-plus anti-LGBTQ bills are still alive.

By Johannes Werner

Original Air Date: Mar. 1, 2024

Host: The most discriminatory anti-trans law yet seems to not be happening. Even so, about a hundred LGBTQ+ activists gathered at the state legislature in Tallahassee to let the world know that their lives are at stake in the culture war bills legislators are bringing to the fore. Our news team has this report.

[“I believe that we will win” chorus]

Johannes Werner: This is the sound of people whose existence was about to be denied by legislators. A driver’s license law promoted by two Republican representatives from Orange and Nassau counties would force trans Floridians to register as either male or female based on the genitalia they presented at birth. However – in a sign that the culture wars are losing the traction they used to enjoy in last year’s legislative session – that bill seems to have died, as the senate failed to produce a companion bill.

On a sunny and breezy day in Tallahassee, the march and rally with legislators drew a crowd of about 100, with people holding signs saying “Let Us Live”. It was organized by LGBTQ rights group Equality Florida.

Speaking at the protest on the steps of the State Capitol, State Sen. Shevrin Jones of Miami Gardens expressed his relief that the senate did not pursue what he calls “hateful” laws. But he also drove home the point how important it is to have representatives and senators speak up at the table.

Shev Jones: This is reason to celebrate. But I also want to share with you the importance of having a seat at the table, because you all know the old saying that if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. I’m happy to have the opportunity to sit in the senate and to continue to bring it up, to make it clear, that the LGBTQ community will no longer be the punching bag of the Florida Legislature.

JW: He said that at one point in the deliberations about the driver’s license bill, one senator told the proponent of the bill to “Let them Be”. Big picture: As the last week of this year’s legislative session unfolds, all but four of the twenty-plus anti-LGBTQ bills filed in January have stalled.

Even so, it’s not over until it’s over, says Representative Anna Eskamani, the Democrat from Orlando.

Anna Eskamani: On the way over here, the senate president was doing a press conference, and she literally said that she does not see that bill coming to the senate floor. Now what does that mean for us? Right? That means that we won this fight. But it’s not over till it’s over. Anything can happen in this Capitol to sine die. So I’m going to encourage everyone here to keep the pressure up. Share your stories, help break the stigma and the misunderstanding of what it means to be trans, and what it means to be non-binary. Stories are a powerful tool for social change. The far right is taking advantage of the fact that many people don’t understand what it’s like to be trans, but they do know what it’s like to be different. And so use your story as a connector.

JW: Reporting for WSLR News, this has been Johannes Werner.


WSLR News aims to keep the local community informed with our 1/2 hour local news show, quarterly newspaper and social media feeds. The local news broadcast airs on Wednesdays and Fridays at 6pm.