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Former Florida governor Ron DeSantis changed transgender people’s lives when he signed a slew of measures into law only one week before May, when he announced his bid for president.

Now that the Republican Party is starting to weigh in on the race for president nomination (in little over five weeks), DeSantis has used these new legislation to differentiate himself from his opponents and win over social conservatives, who may be crucial in helping him secure a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses.

In response to a question regarding his declining poll numbers, Ron DeSantis accused former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley of opposing a law that would prevent transgender children from undergoing certain medical procedures, which he compared to mutilation. This accusation came minutes into Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate. Haley was adamant in her denial.

When asked whether he would dispatch soldiers to the Middle East to free US detainees the following morning, DeSantis once again shifted the conversation to the subject. After that, he spent the following two days travelling about advocating for his cause.

At this point in time, there is just one conservative contender in this election, and that is me. This is the truth, DeSantis stated later on Thursday in Iowa. “What the fuck is going on with this party when we Republicans can’t even agree that it’s wrong to chop off the private parts of a 14-year-old?”

As someone who ascended through the ranks of his party by embracing and subsequently promoting divisive themes that the GOP base was eager to bring up, DeSantis is no stranger to the position of cultural warrior. But it hasn’t been enough to dissuade conservatives from supporting Trump, the former president. As moderates and independents gravitate towards other candidates, notably Haley, DeSantis’s prospects of becoming the leading opposition to Trump have been jeopardised in certain states, notably New Hampshire, due to his extreme right tilt.

However, there is now much less competition for a socially conservative candidate in Iowa, a state with a traditionally strong evangelical impact on the Republican caucuses. Ex-Vice President Mike Pence and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott are among the few contenders that vied for their support and have since dropped out of the race.

After months of meeting with religious leaders in secret and away from the prying eyes of the media, Michael Demastus, a pastor from Des Moines, claims that Ron DeSantis has made substantial progress with those Republicans. Demastus claimed that during Wednesday’s debate, DeSantis showed that he had heard their worries on the left’s drive for increased transgender rights.

“What he said isn’t just the natural language of evangelicals, it’s the native language of any parent with common sense,” Demastus remarked, speaking to HEADLINESFOREVER on his way to a private gathering with DeSantis. (Demastus has stated that he has not yet chosen a candidate to back, even if his wife is on DeSantis’ side.)

Conservative analyst and debate moderator Megyn Kelly, speaking after Wednesday’s event, referred to conservative worries regarding transgender children as a “huge issue” that had been “short shrift” in the prior three debates, a situation she vowed to rectify.

Kelly questioned Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, on his stance against transgender surgery bans, which he had previously stated should be left to parents. “As a parent, you do not have the right to abuse your kids,” DeSantis chimed in with relative ease.

Still, he didn’t waste any time shifting his focus from Christie to Haley, the race’s bigger danger. He accused her of being against a law he had signed in May that outlawed gender-affirming surgery on kids and said she had been against a bill that would have protected transgender people in South Carolina from using the lavatory of their choosing.

As an example of DeSantis’ comments that Haley used as an argument, she cited his comments from a 2018 candidate forum, where he stated that “getting into bathroom wars, I don’t think that’s a good use of our time” and that people should have the freedom to arrange their restrooms “how they want.”

Although that comment gave LGBTQ advocates in Florida hope that DeSantis could bring about a more accepting culture or at least a thawing of tensions, he ended up igniting the “bathroom wars” five years later with a package of bills he signed just before running for president.

It was him who signed it, not you, he remarked. “You snatched it. Signed by me.

Despite the fact that the past president was not addressed in the conversations, DeSantis’ campaign organisation has consistently criticised Trump on transgender matters. The DeSantis campaign’s social media accounts have recycled an old video of Trump awkwardly trying to answer the question of transgender identity on multiple occasions. Christina Pushaw, a senior adviser to DeSantis, has brought up Trump’s political connection to reality TV star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, who came out as transgender in 2015 and who was previously able to entice Jenner to answer on X.

“Is the owner of the account your (sic) replying to a man or a women?” Pushaw was asked by an X user following the Jenner interaction.

“Well, well, well,” Pushaw said.

“Both Nikki Haley and Donald Trump’s records and visions for America are better suited for Gavin Newsom’s California than today’s Hawkeye State,” DeSantis spokesman Andrew Romeo told HEADLINESFOREVER, drawing a connection between the two Republican candidates.

Trump has pledged to order the Department of Justice to investigate healthcare and pharmaceutical corporations as part of his second term agenda, and he has also threatened to cut off federal financing to institutions that offer gender-affirming procedures for youngsters.

“The left-wing gender insanity being pushed on our children is an act of child abuse, very simple,” the proposal states.

Attacks against transgender persons had been on the rise among presidential contenders before DeSantis joined the race, with many hoping to use the issue of LGTBQ rights as a wedge issue.

“A guy dressing up like a girl making fun of women” was how Haley described Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender woman who faced conservative outrage for posting Bud Light promotional videos. She went on to call the exclusion of transgender girls and women from female athletics “the women’s rights issue of our time.” If Trump were to return to the presidency, he would outlaw gender-affirming procedures performed on kids, according to his campaign rhetoric.

Despite the growing awareness of transgender children, medical treatments like surgery and puberty blockers are still very rare. This is despite the fact that prominent medical organisations, such as the American Association of Paediatrics, have reiterated their support for gender-affirming care.

Based on an examination of insurance records conducted by Komodo Health Inc., a health care data business, approximately 300 out of 72 million American children (or 0.0004%) had their breasts or genitalia removed in 2021. In contrast, presidential contenders have paid very little attention to the fact that over 5% of American children lack health insurance and that 4.2 million children face homelessness annually.

National Centre for Transgender Equality spokeswoman Ash Orr told HEADLINESFOREVER, “When we spend our time attacking health care, we are losing sight of serious issues that are affecting our children across the country.” “No one’s right to exist or access to health care should ever be debated, particularly on a national stage.”

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