Cries for the protection of gender-affirming care echoed from the dozens of protestors clutching banners decorated with transgender symbols and flag colors as they marched down Stadium Road.
“F-ck DeSantis,” the crowd roared in unison as they passed the Chick-fil-A at The Hub.
UF’s LGBTQ+ community and allies swarmed the UF Student Health Care Center April 7 for an inject-in to protest the DeSantis administration’s gender-affirming care audit and legislation like House Bill 1421 and Senate Bill 254. During the protest, a group of demonstrators participated in an “inject-in,” where they injected themselves with hormone replacement therapy treatment.
The protest was organized by members of the student coalition UF Queer Liberation Front and featured speeches from UF students and alumni, UF grassroots coalition Gators for Gender-Affirming Care and Gainesville’s National Women’s Liberation chapter.
The inject-in portion of the demonstration was inspired by transgender activist Lindsey Spero, who injected testosterone in front of Florida’s Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine Feb. 10 in protest of the ban on gender-affirming care for minors.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Jan. 18 audit mandated Florida public universities report the number of patients receiving different forms of gender-affirming care through UF Health facilities starting from Jan. 1, 2018. The audit reported a steady increase of gender-affirming care patients through UF Health.
HB 1421 seeks to ban gender-affirming care for minors, prohibit the use of private insurance coverage for the treatment and bar a person's biological sex from being changed on their birth certificate.
SB 254 would criminalize parents and doctors who provide minors with gender-affirming care and grant the state the ability to claim jurisdiction over children who have parents that allow them to receive gender-affirming care treatment. The bill would also ban the use of public funds to subsidize gender-affirming care through state-funded entities.
The protest’s organizers declined to comment to The Alligator.
During the inject-in, demonstrators stayed silent as each participant injected HRT. The crowd burst with applause and cheers once the participants finished and disposed of their supplies in a box attached to a cardboard cutout of DeSantis.
Jay Ferreira, an 18-year-old UF biology freshman, who identifies as trans, spoke at the inject-in about the hardships he’s encountered as a trans person. After his speech, he expressed gratitude for having a supportive community to turn to on campus as he navigates the disturbing political climate surrounding gender-affirming care.
“Being in a community whose anger is so shared is inexplicable,” he said. “[It] gives you some hope.”
However, Ferreira would appreciate a public condemnation of the legislative attacks against gender-affirming care from UF administration.
“All these protests against these bills are always student organized,” he said. “At the very least, some kind of acknowledgement and condemnation of it would be so appreciated.”
Morgan Averette, a 31-year-old fourth-year sociology doctoral student at UF, who identifies as trans and is one of the founding members of Gators for Gender-Affirming Care, said the care she receives through UF Health enables her to feel empowered and more comfortable with her appearance.
“Gender-affirming care is life-saving,” she said. “Community members rely on the care.”
Averette believes public demonstrations like the inject-in are crucial in the fight to protect access to gender-affirming care because it informs those who may not understand the severity of the situation, she said.
“It disrupts the routine, and I think that's good,” she said. “More people need to be paying attention to what’s happening at the state level and how it’s affecting students, faculty and community members.”
Averette is proud of her local community for mobilizing, she said.
“They're doing everything in their power to make it seem like trans people aren't valid,” she said. “The protest here today was a very strong rebuke of that.”
Gainesville resident Carolina Cotten, a trans woman and member of Gainesville’s National Women’s Liberation chapter, who was asked to speak at the protest, said she’s happy to see young trans people fighting to protect their rights to accessible health care.
“We are showing that we will not be intimidated by the [DeSantis] administration,” she said.
Contact Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amandasfriedman.
Amanda Friedman is a senior journalism major and the Enterprise Editor at The Alligator. She previously wrote for the Avenue, Metro and University desks. When she isn't reporting, she loves watching coming-of-age films and listening to Ariana Grande.