Why trans people want to leave Florida — new survey shows impact of anti-LGBTQ+ laws

“Don’t say gay.” “Bathroom bills.” Bans on transgender healthcare.

This year, Florida lawmakers made national headlines for approving anti-LGBTQ+ measures. And as those laws went into effect, they have pushed a majority of transgender Floridians to consider leaving the state, according to results of a survey released Thursday morning.

The survey, co-sponsored and released by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, found that four of five transgender people wanted — or were planning — to leave Florida for another state or country because of gender-affirming care bans. More than 93% stated that they feel less safe now than they did before the laws. From April to June, 1,289 Floridians, including 113 who identified as transgender or non-binary, were surveyed.

This spring, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed laws that banned gender-affirming care for minors and made it more difficult for trans adults to get healthcare. The governor also signed an expansion of what critics call “Don’t Say Gay,” which bars instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools and prohibits school employees from using a student’s preferred pronouns.

In May, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Equality Florida issued a travel advisory that highlighted how new Florida laws pose risks for LGBTQ+ people — as well as immigrants and people of color — who live, relocate or travel to the state.

But the spike in anti-LGBTQ legislation isn’t unique to Florida. More than 550 bills targeting people were introduced in 43 states this year, according to the HRC. Over 80 were signed into law, a figure that more than doubled from 2022, which the foundation previously regarded as the worst year on record.

In June, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ rights organization declared a nationwide state of emergency for the first time.

Attacks on the LGBTQ+ community are influenced by politicians who are “working overtime to manufacture panic, rile up their base, and coax them into opposing healthcare for transgender people, even though it’s endorsed by every major medical organization,” HRC President Kelley Robinson said in a statement.

“The rhetoric and misinformation is having a virtually universal impact on LGBTQ+ people, and further plunging us into a state of emergency that’s threatening the health and safety of every LGBTQ+ person,” Robinson said.

Responses from Florida survey

Almost 80% of trans people — and 45% of other LGBTQ+ adults — reported that bans on gender-affirming care affect their or their loved ones’ physical or mental health.

More than 80% of trans people — and more than 76% of other LGBTQ+ adults — felt that bans on gender-affirming care worsen stereotypes, discrimination, hate and stigma.

Almost 70% of trans people — and more than 44% of other LGBTQ+ adults — would refuse to move to or attend school in another state with a ban on gender-affirming care.

More than half of trans people — and 28% of other LGBTQ+ adults — want to find work in a different state due to gender-affirming care bans.

Almost 80% of other LGBTQ+ adults report that bans on gender-affirming care make them feel less safe as a member of the community.

More than 36% of other LGBTQ+ adults say they want to or plan to move out of Florida because of gender-affirming care bans.