A new law in Florida that affects ID cards and driver’s licenses sparked six protests on Friday throughout the state.
Resident Joseph Knoll stated, “This is about bigotry, this is about the safety of our communities.”
On Friday, he and around twenty other people alternated in lying down on the sidewalk in front of the Orange County tax collector’s office, which is located on University Boulevard and Dean Road.
Members of the transgender community and its allies were holding “die-ins” in six cities, including Tallahassee, Tampa, and Miami.
They are against a rule change that went into effect on January 26 by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which prohibits drivers and ID card holders from updating or renewing their licenses with a different gender marker.
Because of this, according to transgender woman Lana Dunn, “In a recent survey, 37% of transgender Floridians reported some form of discrimination, abuse, or even assault as a result of presenting some form of identification that did not match their gender presentation,” protesters pledged to participate in the die-in for at least 37 minutes.
Knoll is the creator of Spektrum Health, a nursing practice that offers treatment that is gender affirming.
He claims that because of Florida’s conservative political environment, the transgender community is growing increasingly afraid.
“Those in positions of authority who should be setting an example and picking on minorities are sending the message that it’s acceptable to discriminate against marginalized people and to pick on them,” Knoll said.
“As Florida constitutional officers that provide State services at the local level, tax collectors implement all FLHSMV directives — they do not pick and choose which directives to follow based on personal, political, or any other consideration,” said Orange County tax collector Scott Randolph.
Republican lawmakers are working to pass a new law that would require a person’s assigned sex at birth to be listed on freshly issued driver’s licenses; the rule change regarding licenses and IDs is just the first step.
HB 1639 is a measure that, despite Democratic opposition, has already passed two of the three committees where it was considered and still has enough votes to become law.
The following is a statement regarding the rule change from Molly Best, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: “Expanding the Department’s authority to issue replacement licenses dependent on one’s internal sense of gender or sex identification is violative of the law and does not serve to enhance the security and reliability of Florida issued licenses and identification cards.”