With alligators and hair-ruining humidity, Florida is already an arguably difficult place to live for some people. And after Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed an anti-LGBTQ+ bill, it’s becoming especially uninhabitable for transgender residents, some of whom have started crowdfunding money so they can ship out of the Sunshine State.
The bill, which took effect in May, blocks gender-affirming care, bans the attendance of minors at drag shows, polices discussions of pronoun usage in schools, and restricts people’s freedom to use bathrooms that correspond to their identity. It’s led some transgender residents, struggling with Florida’s increasing high cost of living and the expensive costs for medical treatment that often aren’t covered by insurance, to turn to GoFundMe for financial support in the hopes of moving to a more welcoming state with inclusive laws, the Associated Press reports. These petitions have raised over $200,000 on the crowdfunding site since January, per the AP.
Additional data provided by GoFundMe to Fortune shows a 520% increase in fundraisers created to support Florida-based trans people in relocating to more gay-friendly places over the past year (DeSantis notably also signed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in early 2022). In the past month alone, these types of fundraisers in the state have surged by 39%.
Sage Chelf, a transgender woman based in Orlando, told the AP she made a GoFundMe with the goal of raising $2,500 to help with moving costs she couldn’t afford. She ended up exceeding her goal by $500 in less than two weeks, and is now planning to relocate to Illinois to live with her girlfriend.
When she found out that her hormone therapy was no longer being offered, she felt she was left with no other option. “I would rather just not be alive, I guess, then have to go back to living not trans,” she said. But the support she received made her feel hopeful about humankind, she added.
As conservatives increasingly push a transphobic agenda, there have been more than 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in the U.S. only halfway through the year. In Tennessee, drag queens and leaders are fighting to continue to perform drag in public, protesting a law that could impact their livelihoods and that would have larger implications about how gender is both expressed and monitored by the government. Politicians in Idaho and Indiana have also recently pushed and passed laws banning gender-affirming care for minors.
Laws like this run the risk of creating greater mental health issues for youth experiencing gender dysphoria, and can create a trickle effect for adults whose rights are on the chopping block. And the fight for bigotry has an economic cost too; while the AP points out that only a small bite of the 94,900 transgender residents are crowdsourcing to leave, those who do are finding another community and economy to partake in. In Florida, CEO Bob Iger warned DeSantis that his crusade against Disney—which opposed DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” bill—will cost him up to $17 billion.
While many like Chelf have found success in finding the support they need, there’s a loose end remaining as the individuals are patching up for a government that is failing marginalized and targeted communities.