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(LifeSiteNews) – CNN ramped up its attacks on the conservative policies of Florida Republican governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis by highlighting the story of a family who claims they’ve been forced to “flee” the Sunshine State because it forbids gender mutilation procedures until adulthood.

“We just thought it would be a nice, warm place to live where we could get to beaches,” Kelly McKee says, followed by his wife Tiffiney declaring, “I just never thought that I would have to flee a state for the good of my children.”

Tiffiney explains how her son Tori (whom she identifies as a daughter) came to her crying because DeSantis signed legislation in May to prohibit surgical and chemical “transitioning” procedures for anyone below the age of 18. “The fact that a governor would be making my kid cry, that’s a messed-up government,” she says.

Tori, whose current age is not specified in the segment, says he began taking hormone blockers “pretty soon” after age 11 or 12, which Kelly claims made him much more comfortable and outgoing, and even ended his suicidal tendencies. Tori added that it has since become “difficult” to access his hormones, and that “even if I wasn’t trans,” Florida is simply “not a safe environment for queer people in general.”

“I do fear for my daughter’s safety,” the mother says, “and just the fact that somebody might wanna hurt her just for her being her, for her existence, is scary. I worry about her every time she goes out.” She added that she’s “looking forward to just being in a place where I don’t feel under attack, where I don’t feel oppressed.”

Laura Campbell of the group Free Mom Hugs Florida told CNN they see “many families that are leaving” Florida.

The segment did not offer any basis for the family’s insinuations that gender-confused children are at disproportionate risk of violence in Florida, which in December announced that crime had dropped to a 50-year low in 2021. And despite its rhetoric about the harms of denying “gender affirming care,” evidence suggests the real danger lies with affirming confusion about one’s biological sex. 

Studies find that more than 80% of children experiencing gender dysphoria outgrow it on their own by late adolescence, and that even full “reassignment” surgery often fails to resolve gender-confused individuals’ heightened tendency to engage in self-harm and suicide — and may even exacerbate it, including by reinforcing their confusion and neglecting the actual root causes of their mental strife.

Many oft-ignored “detransitioners,” individuals who attempted to live under a different “gender identity” before embracing their sex, attest to the physical and mental harm of reinforcing gender confusion, as well as to the bias and negligence of the medical establishment on the subject.

The danger of keeping parents in the dark about such situations is grimly illustrated in the story of Yaeli Martinez, a 19-year-old to whom “gender transitioning” was touted as a possible cure for her depression in high school and supported by a high school counselor who withheld what she was going through from her mother. The troubled girl killed herself after trying to live as a man for three years.

“It is difficult not to feel bad for the family that is the subject of this emotionally manipulative segment,” wroted the Washington Examiner’s Zachary Faria. “They were told, presumably by medical professionals, that the only path forward for their son was to permanently alter his body starting from when he was in middle school. Like other parents of ‘transgender’ children, they were likely told that the only two options were to embrace puberty blockers, hormone replacement, and sex change surgeries, or their child would commit suicide. Their son will never be a girl, but he will also never be able to reverse the damage that has been done to his body.”

Others on social media felt less sympathetic toward the parents, however:

The segment echoes far-left groups’ efforts to paint Florida as “unsafe” for racial and sexual minorities, a narrative mocked and rejected by Republicans such as DeSantis and predecessor Rick Scott, who point to DeSantis’s 19-point reelection margin last fall and substantial net migration to the Sunshine State during his tenure.

At the same time, Florida Republicans see the departure of leftist residents as a feature rather than a bug, contributing to a net shift of 750,000 voters from the Democrat Party to the Republicans since DeSantis took office and solidifying its status as a conservative stronghold.