Transgender women and girls will be banned from school sports in Florida, if the state's governor, Ron DeSantis, signs what has been described as a "cruel and horrific" bill.
The bill, which was rushed through by state legislators in a controversial late-night session, was revived by politicians and then passed, prohibiting transgender athletes competing in high school and college sports.
A standalone bill passed the Florida house earlier this month before dying in the state senate after warnings from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) that it would refuse to stage championship games and tournaments in states with discriminatory policies.
“It’s horrific,” were the words of Gina Duncan, the director of transgender equality at Equality Florida. “This bill shows not only their lack of humanity but their astounding ignorance about the transgender community, not understanding that trans girls are girls and transgender women are women.
“Despite impassioned pleas by legislators who have gay and transgender kids and grandkids imploring supporters of this bill to understand the harm that it will do, Republicans followed their marching orders to implement this orchestrated culture war and move this bill forward.”
US president Joe Biden reacted to the Republican anti-trans push in his first joint address to Congress on Wednesday night: “To all transgender Americans watching at home, especially the young people: you’re so brave. I want you to know your president has your back."
The sponsor of Florida’s original trans-sports bill, state representative Kaylee Tuck, told colleagues the law was a necessary one as trans athletes had an unfair advantage in women’s athletic competitions. “We don’t need to wait until there’s a problem in Florida for us to act,” she said, acknowledging that there was no evidence of the issue causing problems in the state.
“This cruel legislation is creating an issue where one doesn’t exist, picking on young people for political gain,” said Charlie Crist, a Democratic US congressman and Florida’s former governor.
“I challenge Republican legislators in Tallahassee to imagine being a kid who is in this situation, what it says to them to be singled out by lawmakers in such a mean-spirited way.”
Equality Florida activist Duncan, added: "“It’s terribly harmful to our transgender young people, and there will be substantive revenue drains from passing this bill because the NCAA has made it very clear that they are going to be collaborating with states that do not discriminate, that are inclusive and welcoming for all,
“Economic recovery from the pandemic is so critical to states and to the country. Instead of focusing on that, and on how we provide funding to support people, feed people and house people, we’re passing a bill to discriminate against transgender young people?”
Author: Jake Wilkin