wplg logo

Florida transgender sports bill ‘sends a very dangerous signal’ critic says

Republican lawmakers sent proposal to Gov. DeSantis Wednesday night

Republican lawmakers sneaked the transgender athlete ban into a popular charter school bill, which passed easily. Now it's on Gov. Ron DeSantis' desk for a likely signature making it law.
Republican lawmakers sneaked the transgender athlete ban into a popular charter school bill, which passed easily. Now it's on Gov. Ron DeSantis' desk for a likely signature making it law.

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Boys who identify as girls and want to play school sports with them won’t be able to under a bill passed Wednesday night in Tallahassee.

Republican lawmakers pulled a fast one, sneaking the transgender athlete ban into a popular charter school bill, which passed easily.

It’s headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is almost surely going to sign it into law.

“This innocuous bill that had nothing to do with sports, nothing to do with transgender youth, now has language that categorically bans transgender young people in our state from playing sports that align with their gender identity,” said Joe Saunders, Equality Florida political director. “It was a shocking move that was clearly a backroom deal.”

The bill dropped a provision that would have required a physical examination of the transgender athlete’s genitals. But they must present a birth certificate showing their gender at birth. Critics say it’s one more slap at transgender people.

“Transgender young people are the most likely to be bullied, the most likely to experience violence, and it’s because they’re the least understood,” Saunders said.

Bill sponsors couldn’t cite a single case where female athletes complained about transgender women

”We are doing this so that women have the opportunity to participate, to get scholarships, to excel with other women of like strength capabilities,” said state Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland.

On the floor, state Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, said: “Males are different from females. That’s why we’ve always had these sports. This is not an anti-anything bill. It’s a pro-women bill.”

At the college level, the NCAA requires transgender female athletes to take a testosterone suppressor for a year before they can play women’s sports.

The Florida bill just says they can’t play at all through high school.

“This is a dark day for transgender people in Florida,” Saunders said, “and it sends a very dangerous signal during an economic recovery about who we are as a state.”


About the Author:

Michael Putney came to Local 10 in 1989 to become senior political reporter and host of "This Week In South Florida with Michael Putney." He is Local 10's senior political reporter.