How 'bully' Ron DeSantis is 'weaponizing state agencies' against trans Floridians: report

How 'bully' Ron DeSantis is 'weaponizing state agencies' against trans Floridians: report
Image via Gage Skidmore.
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Far-right MAGA Republicans suffered one disappointment after another in the 2022 midterms, losing statewide races in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and other key swing states. The massive red wave that so many GOP pundits predicted on Fox News and Fox Business never materialized, and the statewide success stories in swing states and battleground states were generally a combination of Democrats and traditional GOP conservatives (Gov. Mike DeWine in Ohio, Gov. Chris Sununu in New Hampshire, Gov. Brian Kemp in Georgia) rather than hyper-MAGA culture warriors.

But a major exception to that rule was Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis campaigned on a far-right agenda and was reelected by 19 percent. Moreover, DeSantis arguably showed down-ballot strength when GOP Sen. Marco Rubio was reelected by 16 percent. Florida, known for close elections in the past, was a state where Democrats got clobbered on Election Night — and not by centrists or moderates.

DeSantis didn’t run away from his far-right record during his 2022 reelection campaign; he celebrated it, including his anti-trans policies. Journalist Jose Pagliery, in an article published by the Daily Beast on December 11, stresses that while DeSantis isn’t the only Republican with an anti-trans agenda, he has been more effective — and more ruthless — in implementing it.”

READ MORE:Ron DeSantis' 'deeply cringeworthy' autobiography probably signals a presidential run: columnist

“For months now,” Pagliery explains, “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been aggressively using his executive power to deny transgender medical care for two of society’s most vulnerable groups: children and the poor. In that, he has been far from alone, as Republicans across the country lean into an ugly backlash against the trans community and the science that supports it. Along the way, DeSantis has been employing a power grab some fear will be adopted by other Republican governors — with disastrous results.”

Pagliery continues, “As part of DeSantis’ ongoing MAGA crusade against progressives, his administration is simultaneously using different state agencies to cut off what is referred to as ‘gender-affirming’ care that helps trans people realize their identities. When a far-right state legislator failed to pass an anti-trans bill earlier this year, the governor resorted to backroom bureaucracy to get the same result. It’s the latest instance of DeSantis implementing increasingly cruel policies as he builds a national reputation in the run-up to a possible 2024 run for the White House.”

Following the midterms, some Republicans are openly calling for the GOP to distance itself from Donald Trump and rally around DeSantis as the 2024 GOP presidential candidate — that is, if DeSantis does decide to run for president, which appears likely. Author Ann Coulter is very bullish on DeSantis, and the abundance of pro-DeSantis propaganda on Fox News underscores Rupert Murdoch’s frustration with Trump. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is frustrated as well and has indicated that he would welcome a DeSantis presidential run, although he avoids talking about Trump.

According to Pagliery, one thing that “distinguishes DeSantis from his presumptive primary foe, former President Donald Trump” is the fact that DeSantis “knows how to operate the machinery of government effectively as a weapon against the marginalized.”

READ MORE: 'A strange no-eye-contact oddball': Who is the real Ron DeSantis?

Andrea Montanez, a transgender woman based in Florida, told the Daily Beast, “They’re trying to destroy us. They think we’re less than everybody. They think people don’t empathize with us. And unfortunately, he’s targeting the youngest people…. It’s scary. If the state starts with this, private companies will follow their example.”

Pagliery notes that Florida, under DeSantis, “is now using its health care regulators” to “gaslight the state’s transgender population and doctors who specialize in the field” by “casting doubt on the global scientific community’s emerging understanding of gender dysphoria.”

Democratic Florida State Rep. Anna Eskamani told the Beast, “Because he’ll run for president, he wants as many wins as possible. He’s a faux populist. This is part of his track record of weaponizing state agencies to get his way.”

Democratic Rep. Kelly Skidmore of Florida said of DeSantis, “This governor has proven time and time again he is a bully and he will get what he wants.”

READ MORE: Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are already duking it out in Pennsylvania

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