Nonbinary Broward Candidate Confronts Florida Rep Sponsoring Anti-Trans Bill

Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini (left) and Florida House candidate Elijah ManleyEXPAND
Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini (left) and Florida House candidate Elijah Manley
Photos by @AnthonySabatini, @iElijahManley/Twitter
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

Elijah Manley was wandering the halls of the Florida Capitol yesterday to kill time before he planned to speak out against an anti-trans bill in the state House of Representatives. When he walked past an open office door, he recognized the man behind the desk.

"I was like, That's the guy that actually introduced this bill," Manley tells New Times. "He let me come in, and we talked for ten to 15 minutes."

Republican Rep. Anthony Sabatini is sponsoring the Vulnerable Child Protection Act (HB 1365), a bill that would make it a felony for doctors to prescribe hormone therapy or perform gender reassignment surgery on minors. Manley, a candidate for Florida House District 94 in Broward County who made a run for U.S. president at the age of 16, traveled to Tallahassee yesterday to speak out against the bill at a meeting of the House Health Quality Subcommittee.

At first, the 21-year-old Manley was excited to have an opportunity to change Sabatini's mind. Manley, who identifies as nonbinary, says he told the representative he feared the youth transgender suicide rate would increase if the bill passed. But he says Sabatini refused to acknowledge the gender spectrum and declared that all identities beyond male and female are "manufactured."

"I went in with a very open mind, and I thought he would have an open mind too," Manley says. "But all I heard was partisan rhetoric."

The two soon parted ways and headed into the subcommittee meeting, during which Sabatini explained he wanted to "pump the brakes" on the "explosion" of gender clinics that have cropped up in Florida to provide care for transgender youth.

"What's happening right now in Florida and around the nation in terms of gender reassignment is really sort of the Wild West," Sabatini said. "There are no real valid, serious diagnoses given to a child before they go down the path of changing their gender and their sexual identity."

Sabatini cited support for his bill from the American College of Pediatricians, an assertion that subcommittee member Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith repeatedly criticized throughout the meeting.

"You sent us a letter from the American College of Pediatricians, but they have been thoroughly debunked by really the entire industry of medical professionals," Smith said, pointing out that the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the organization as a hate group.

Throughout the nearly three-hour discussion, Smith blasted the idea of criminal penalties for doctors who administer medical services that are considered best practices for transgender children.

"Why should we criminalize healthcare that follows what the overwhelming consensus of medical professionals in the nation and in the world say is appropriate and lifesaving for transgender youth?" Smith asked.

A number of Florida residents, including Manley, also spoke out against Sabatini's bill. During the public comment period, Manley alluded to his chat with Sabatini earlier in the day.

"It was very enlightening," Manley told the subcommittee. "I discovered that the representative believes that we are 'manufacturing' our identities and that this [bill] is more of a broader national movement to basically stigmatize us."

Manley suggested that instead of passing a "nasty bill," lawmakers ought to work on legislation "that uplifts transgender youth."

The subcommittee took no vote on the Vulnerable Child Protection Act yesterday, meaning the bill likely won't gain traction.

"[HB 1365] does not protect vulnerable children even though it says that in the headline," Manley tells New Times. "It actually does the opposite."

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.