Houses passes bill banning transgender girls from playing on women’s sports teams

The Florida House on Wednesday passed a 77-40 bill banning transgender girls from participating in women’s sports.

Proponents have argued for the legislation (HB 1475) will preserve the integrity of women’s sport because transgender girls are given an unfair advantage. This is despite a range of women’s sports organizations opposing the bill, and the NCAA threatening withdrawing all championships from the state, which could jeopardize an economic impact of $75 million.

representing Michele Raynera St. Petersburg Democrat and the only gay woman in the Florida House, wept as she opposed the bill’s passage.

“As a lawyer, I was trained not to have emotion when debating. But we’re talking about kids…we’re talking about kids who can’t speak for themselves,” she said.

“I struggled with this bill. I struggled to understand why this was necessary. I had a hard time envisioning with everything going on in our state – people losing their jobs, people dying from COVID – that this is the bill. And I struggled when we know the devastating impact this will have on children, why this bill was even introduced.

representing Kaylee Tuck, a Republican from Lake Placid, backed the bill and argued that “biological women” could face a competitive disadvantage against individuals who were born male but now identify as female. She pointed to Connecticut where two transgender athletes set state records in 15 events in which previous records were held by eight people.

The legislation was among the most controversial of the Session, generating hours of debate on the amendments. House Republicans on Tuesday rejected 18 amendments proposed by Democrats. These included changes that would have excluded elementary and middle school children from the bill, banned genital inspections, or codified current Florida High School Athletic Association guidelines into law.

representing Anna Eskamanian Orlando Democrat, made an impassioned statement on the court mocking claims that the bill in any way protected the woman.

“I, for one, will not be used as a political pawn for a sick political game that pits me against my sisters,” she said.

representing Jenna Persons – Mulicka, a Republican from Fort Myers, countered that the bill was essential to ensure that Title IX protections for female athletes remain in place. She went to college on a tennis scholarship and said legislation was needed to ensure women had equal opportunity in sporting opportunities.

“It has been a lifelong passion to support young women’s participation in sports,” she said. “We know what impact this can have on their lives.”

representing Traci Kostera Republican from Hillsborough, quoted the words of the famous tennis player Martina Navratilovaone of the first openly gay players to dominate the sport, who accused transgender women playing women’s sports of “cheating”.

representing james bush, a Miami Democrat, cast the only vote on his side of the aisle in favor of the bill. He maintained that it was primarily a security issue.

“I’m running today not as a Democrat, not as a Republican, I’m running today as a concerned parent of two former college football players,” Bush said, adding that he also had was a coach and teacher.

Rayner, however, suggested it would do the opposite. She particularly took issue with provisions permitting the challenge of an athlete’s identity that would allow a third party to inspect the genitals of a student accused of playing sports as the “wrong” sex. She called it “state-sanctioned child sexual assault.”

Under the measure, students’ schools would have to resolve disputes “by asking the student to provide a health exam and a consent form or other statement signed by the student’s personal health care provider who must verify the student’s biological sex”.

The measure provides that a student’s gender would be determined by their reproductive anatomy, genetic makeup, or “normal levels of endogenously produced testosterone.”

Supporters argued that the bill was not intended to prevent transgender athletes from playing sports and that trans girls could still play on boys’ teams if they met certain criteria, such as maintaining low testosterone levels and being healthy. submit to a physical examination.

representing Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat and gay man, said that argument was laughable. He compared it to when supporters of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage argued in 2008 that a gay man could still participate in the institution of marriage by marrying a woman. The U.S. Supreme Court has since ruled that it was unconstitutional and the argument is now widely seen as laughable, he said.

“Soon the transgender community will find the same broad support that gays, lesbians and bisexuals now enjoy,” Smith said. “The civil rights movements have taught us so many important lessons about the importance of acceptance and equality for all.”

Since 2013, the Florida High School Athletic Association has implemented guidelines allowing transgender students to apply to play on the team based on their gender identity. This requires affirming gender identity and witnessing that athletes live their entire lives in a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth.

Since then, only 11 Florida students have applied to be allowed to compete in sports other than the gender they were assigned at birth.

The Senate companion for that bill was notably deferred from the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday. Senate leaders say it was for “planning purposes,” but the decision to introduce the bill came the same day the NCAA threatened to pull its events.

house tenant Chris Sprows, when asked about the differences between House and Senate legislation, said it was something to be settled in conference.

“I’ve said very publicly that I believe our bill is common sense, allows girls to play women’s sports, protects the competitiveness of those sports,” he said. “So we’ll have to figure out the rest in the legislative process, but I support the bill we passed today.”

Notably, the Senate bill also has substantial differences, including allowing some transgender girls to play after fully transitioning if their testosterone tests at levels normally found in girls or women.

The House passage drew comments from political figures in Florida and elsewhere.

Agriculture Commissioner Fried NikkiFlorida’s only Democrat to hold statewide office, criticized the bill.

“Like many of their so-called priority issues this legislative session, Florida’s Republican bill banning transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports is morally wrong and completely out of touch with the real issues facing Floridians,” Fried said. . “This is political opportunism at its finest and a disgraceful attempt to stir up controversy while marginalizing an entire community. I am proud to support our transgender community and remain committed to inclusivity, equality and freedom, values ​​that this legislation violates.

The NCAA also released a statement, saying it will not hold events in states whose laws read like this bill.

“In determining the venue for championships, NCAA policy states that only venues where hosts can commit to providing a safe, healthy, and discrimination-free environment should be selected,” the statement read.

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Additional information from the News Service of Florida was used in this report.


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