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Florida’s New Rules on Driver’s Licenses Stir the Pot

Welcome to the latest chapter in the “As Florida Turns” saga, where the sun shines bright, the oranges are sweet, and the driver’s license policies are… well, let’s just say they’re causing quite the stir. In a move that has everyone from local residents to national advocates talking (and tweeting), the Sunshine State has decided to put the brakes on transgender residents changing the gender on their driver’s licenses.

The Plot Thickens

Imagine this: you’re enjoying your daily dose of Florida sunshine when you hear that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) has introduced a new twist in the ID saga. Under the new directive, the folks at the county tax collector’s office will have to say, “Sorry, no can do” to anyone looking to update the gender on their driver’s license. It seems the only changes allowed now involve lost or stolen licenses, or updates to names, addresses, or restrictions.

A New Policy on the Horizon

As if Florida’s legislative scene wasn’t spicy enough, along comes this new policy, hot off the press. It’s part of a broader narrative that’s seen the state’s GOP-led Legislature putting the pen to paper on laws that have LGBTQ+ advocates raising their eyebrows—and their voices. From banning gender-affirming treatments for the kiddos to putting the kibosh on Medicaid for gender-affirming care for adults, it’s been quite the year for legislative action.

The Medical Community Weighs In

It’s worth noting that heavy hitters like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association are all for gender-affirming care, pointing out that it’s more about counseling, social transitioning, and hormone therapy than anything else. But, as they say, the plot must go on, and Florida is writing its own script.

The Response: A Mixed Bag

Brandon Wolf of the Human Rights Campaign didn’t mince words, suggesting the new ID policy might just make things a tad uncomfortable for transgender folks in situations ranging from hotel check-ins to airport security. DHSMV’s spokesperson, meanwhile, assures us that this is all about ensuring replacement licenses stick to the script, with no changes to how gender is determined on new IDs. “In Florida, you do not get to play identity politics with your driver license,” they added, possibly while sipping a very official-looking cup of coffee.

Legislation Looming

And because no story is complete without a cliffhanger, let’s talk about HB 1639, making its way through the legislative labyrinth. Spearheaded by GOP state Rep. Doug Bankson, this bill is ready to swap “gender” for “sex” on those ID card applications and anchor it to the gender assigned at birth. With the bill sailing through committees faster than a speedboat in the Gulf, it’s clear this chapter of Florida’s legislative tale is far from over.

The Takeaway

So, what’s the moral of this Sunshine State story? Well, it’s a reminder that in the world of policy and politics, the only constant is change (or, in this case, the lack thereof). As Florida navigates these waters, residents, advocates, and onlookers alike are buckling up for what promises to be an interesting ride. Whether you’re cheering from the sidelines or shaking your head in disbelief, one thing’s for sure: Florida never fails to keep things interesting. Stay tuned, folks—this saga is to be continued.