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Don't Say Trans: Florida keeps showing just how Fidelista it really is

A billboard welcoming people to "Florida: The Sunshine 'Don't Say Gay or Trans' State.'"
John Raoux
Fidelista Florida: A billboard welcoming visitors to "Florida: The Sunshine 'Don't Say Gay or Trans' State'" is seen April 21, 2022, in Winter Park, Fla. Such billboards, placed in key areas with high visitor traffic and visibility, are part of a protest effort by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) against Florida's raft of anti-LGBTQ legislation.

COMMENTARY Florida's fierce orgy of anti-gay lawmaking seeks to drive LGBTQ people out of sight in the 21st century — just as Fidel Castro's cruel homophobia made them invisible in Cuba in the 20th.

Is there any political movement in the Americas as maniacally obsessed with driving and shaming the LGBTQ population underground and out of sight as the 21st-century Florida Republican Party is?

I know of only one: the Cuban Communist Revolution of the 20th century.

Sí, señor, the same regime once run by Fidel Castro, Cuba’s late, hyper-homophobic dictador.

Anti-socialista Florida supposedly reviles Fidel’s memory as much as it hates spring breakers and windstorm policy renewals.

But Florida — you have no idea just how hypocritically Fidelista you genuinely are.

READ MORE: Bolsonaro's hateful homophobia echoes here even more than his dimwit denialism does

We’re reminded of that yet again by yet another piece of GOP legislation. It’s designed, like the notorious Don’t Say Gay law, to make all those Bible-insulting LGBTQ deviants disappear — poof! — back into the dark, quiet closet they never should have been let out of in the first place.

It’s called House Bill 1639. But it’s already destined to be known as the Trans Erasure law if it passes, which seems likely after it moved through committee this week. That’s because it erases transgender people by telling them: Your self-proclaimed identity is an offensive myth, and we’ll ensure it remains an official myth by making you list your sex at birth on your Florida driver’s license.

A similar Don’t Say Trans bill in the Florida House orders that for other ID documents, too.

Despite all disingenuous claims to the contrary by the bills’ sponsors, the aim is chillingly clear: to effectively, cruelly expunge the legitimate existence of transgender people in Florida. And the motive behind it is just as transparent: the retro, ruthless belief that transgenderism is an affront to natural law — to God.

Florida's Fidelistas realize that even if they can’t literally exile LGBTQ people the way Castro did, they can still follow Fidel by at least legally banishing them.

It’s the same medieval mindset that led Fidel Castro to declare that homosexuality was an affront to his God: the Revolution. Or, as he himself made chillingly clear in 1965:

“We would never believe a homosexual could embody the conditions and requirements of conduct to enable us to consider him a true revolutionary. A deviation of that nature clashes with the concept we have of what a true militant communist should be.”

Work camps

Castro and his even more fiercely homophobic henchman, Che Guevara, hammered that thinking home by rounding up homosexuals and sending them to work and “re-education” camps. Not even today’s Florida Republicans could get away with that — although, if they thought they could, Gov. Ron DeSantis might be tempted to fly transgender Floridians to Martha’s Vineyard — but that’s actually the point:

Then Cuban leader Fidel Castro speaks during a television address in Havana, in this Aug. 15, 1959 photo.
Then Cuban leader Fidel Castro speaks during a television address in Havana, in this Aug. 15, 1959 photo.

Even if they can’t literally exile LGBTQ people that way, they’ve decided they can still follow Castro’s example by at least legally banishing them using measures like the Trans Erasure bill.

They can, in the end, still be good Florida Fidelistas.

That includes Fidelista truth-twisting. In classic Orwellian fashion, HB 1639’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. Doug Bankson of Apopka, asserts transgenderism lacks “history” — as if people medically adopting genders their bodies and souls feel more suited to is some recent, misguided fad. In fact, I’m old enough to remember Americans like tennis pro Renée Richards doing it half a century ago and having their rights upheld in court.

Then there’s the Florida legislation’s mandate that health insurance covering gender transition treatment also pay for “de-transitioning.” On the surface that seems innocuous; but it’s actually a petty swipe intended to validate the monstrously invalid doctrine that being LGBTQ is a perverted “choice” that can and should be de-programmed. Or as Miami state Sen. Ileana Garcia, another GOP Fidelista, is infamous for declaring: “Gay is not a permanent thing.”

Florida’s Fidelistas understand the simple bottom line the original Fidelista understood: visibility is the enemy when you’re trying to keep this affront to God or the Revolution invisible.

They know if they'd just gotten Will & Grace and The L Word canceled they wouldn't still be dealing with this pestilence. They realize they should have leaned harder on fellow right-wing bullies like former Vice President Dick Cheney, who lost his spine and went soft on LGBTQs just because, geez, his own daughter came out as a lesbian.

Castro later in life publicly renounced his homophobia, too. What he finally got is that being LGBTQ is not a deviation from natural law; it’s simply a variation.

Florida’s Fidelistas will never erase that natural fact.

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
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