- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came out swinging after President Biden blasted Florida’s initiatives on transgender youth as “cruel” and “close to sinful.”

“It is not ‘sinful’ to prohibit the mutilation of minors,” the Republican governor said in a Tuesday tweet. “It is not acceptable for the federal government to mandate that procedures like sex change operations be allowed for kids.”

Mr. Biden took a shot at Florida’s recent initiatives on transgender youth in an interview Monday with “The Daily Show” guest host Kal Penn, an actor and former Obama White House staffer.

“Transgender kids is a really hard thing,” Mr. Biden said. “What’s going on in Florida is, as my mother would say, close to sinful. I mean, it’s just terrible what they’re doing.”

Mr. Biden did not specify a particular policy, but Florida’s boards of medicine and osteopathic medicine adopted rules last month banning minors from accessing gender-transition drugs and surgeries over the objections of Democrats and LGBTQ advocates.

The exchange offered a sneak peak into the individuals and issues expected to loom large in the 2024 presidential race. Mr. DeSantis is widely viewed as a leading contender for the GOP nomination, although he has not announced a candidacy.

The Florida legislature is considering bills this year that would define sex in public K-12 education as “an immutable biological trait” and require schools to use pronouns and titles for students and staff based on their sex, not their gender identity.

Last year, Mr. DeSantis signed legislation prohibiting classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-3, a measure decried by LGBTQ advocates as the “don’t say gay” bill.

“It’s not like, you know, a kid wakes up one morning and says, ‘you know, I decided I want to become a man,’ or ‘I want to become a woman,’ or ‘I want to change,’” Mr. Biden said. “I mean, what are they thinking about here? They’re human beings. They love. They have feelings, they have inclinations.”

He added that: “It just to me is, I don’t know, it’s cruel. And the way we do it is we make sure we pass legislation like we passed on same-sex marriage.”

The DeSantis team responded by posting graphic photos of surgical scars from procedures such as double mastectomies.

“Biden thinks it’s ‘cruel’ that Florida is NOT allowing experimental sex change operations for kids,” tweeted the DeSantis War Room, the governor’s rapid-response account.

A Summit Ministries poll conducted recently by McLaughlin and Associates found a majority of likely voters have concerns about the gender-identity movement when it comes to those under 18.

Most of the poll respondents — 59% — agreed that pharmaceutical companies and doctors who “promote puberty blockers and cross-sex hormone treatment for underage children” should be held legally liable for any harmful side effects.

Another 24% disagreed with that statement, while 17% did not know or refused to respond, according to the poll released Tuesday.

In addition, 71% of those with an opinion on the issue said they were “concerned by the efforts to expose children to the transgender movement using things like drag queen shows, school curriculum, and social media.”

“This polling shows that the American public is rightfully concerned, angry and want accountability for this targeting of kids,” said Jeff Myers, Summit Ministries president co-author of “Exposing the Gender Lie: How to Protect Children and Teens from the Transgender Industry’s False Ideology.”

The national survey of likely general election voters was conducted Feb. 17-22.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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