A proposal to ban transgender females from taking part in girls’ or women’s high-school and college sports is teed up for consideration by the full House, after a Republican-controlled education panel overrode fiery objections Tuesday.
The House Education & Employment Committee voted 15-6 to approve the proposal (HB 1475) sponsored by Rep. Kaylee Tuck, R-Lake Placid, with Rep. James Bush, D-Miami, the only Democrat supporting the bill.
Dubbed the “Fairness In Women’s Sports Act,” the proposal would make participation in athletics contingent on determining a student’s “biological sex,” a disputed term that refers to the sex assigned at birth.
Tuck said “inherent, biological differences between men and women” give males an edge in sporting events.
“American sprinter Allyson Felix is the fastest woman in the world. She has more gold medals than Usain Bolt,” Tuck said, referring to a famed male sprinter. “But yet, her personal best in the 400 meters can be beaten by hundreds of high school boys.”
Rep. Kristen Arrington, D-Kissimmee, questioned whether the bill is needed, as governing organizations of high school and college sports already have rules addressing the issue.
“The Florida High School Athletic Association and the NCAA, they already have existing policies in place for almost a decade for transgender girls to compete fairly with other girls,” Arrington said. “Why is this policy not already sufficient?”
Tuck cited differences in the organizations’ policies and said her bill “strikes a balance and makes sure that women aren’t competing unfairly against biological men.”
Arrington proposed amendments aimed at softening the measure, but Republicans rejected them. One proposal would have exempted transgender girls who have taken hormone- replacement therapy and testosterone blockers for a year.
Abigail O’Laughlin, a former high-school athlete from Okaloosa County, opposed the measure.
“I am quite honestly offended that the claim of protecting women is being used to exclude transgender individuals, when there are far bigger issues at stake when it comes to equity for women,” O’Laughlin told the committee.
Bill opponents and proponents who spoke during the meeting both contended that “science” backs their positions.
Paul Arons, a physician who said his practice has included treating transgender people, took issue with proponents’ assertions that the bill is in keeping with scientific consensus.
“As a scientist, I want to represent science accurately. Young transgender subjects of HB 1475 have a scientifically validated female gender identity. This bill is an assault on their personhood,” Arons said.
But Anthony Verdugo, executive director of the Christian Family Coalition of Florida, also pointed to science as he supported the proposal.
“Please follow the science, follow the biology. A yes vote is a vote for fairness and a vote for equal rights for women and women’s sports,” Verdugo said.
The proposal would give a legal cause of action to athletes who have been “deprived of an athletic opportunity.”
Under the measure, students’ schools would have to resolve disputes “by requesting that the student provide a health examination and consent form or other statement signed by the student’s personal health care provider which must verify the student’s biological sex.”
Opponents argue that Florida has had a negligible amount of complaints about transgender athletes participating in sports, and Tuck pointed only to out-of-state disputes when trying to illustrate a need for the legislation.
Arrington, like other opponents, cautioned that passing such legislation will lead to sports organizations such as the NCAA and large corporations taking their business to other states.
“It’s discriminatory and bad for business and our economy. Our children don’t need this now. These kids have survived school shootings, underfunding, overcrowding, and now a pandemic. This is the last thing they need to contend with. Let them play sports,” Arrington said.
The issue has has emerged as one of the most hotly contested topics of the 2021 legislative session, and opponents Tuesday decried a “coordinated, muti-state attack” on transgender people.
More than 25 other states with Republican-controlled state houses have introduced or passed similar measures. In March, more than 500 college athletes signed an open letter addressed to NCAA President Mark Emmert about legislation in other states.
“You have been silent in the face of hateful legislation in states that are slated to host championships, even though those states are close to passing anti-transgender legislation,” the letter said.
A similar Senate bill (SB 2012) has been approved by two committees and would need approval from the Rules Committee to be considered by the full chamber.
The Senate measure, sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, is less stringent than the outright ban proposed in the House. It includes an exception for “persons who transition from male to female” if they meet certain conditions, such as specified testosterone levels.
–Ryan Dailey, News Service of Florida
Why do Repugs always want to look at kid’s genitals? The party of projection continues its creepy march towards irrelevance hanging on to hot button issues. If this passes I’m sure Matt Gaetz will eagerly raise his hand, or lower it, the fuking pervert pedo.
It appears to me that the only individual rights that matter to Republicans or those that pertain to guns and religion. This is the same party that claimed making people wear a mask was unconstitutional, that you could not tell somebody what to do or not do with their body but they will tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body when it pertains to reproduction. So it is OK for a person not to wear a mask and endanger other people but it’s not OK for somebody to participate in sports without showing their genitals to prove their birth sex? I think that if the people proposing these laws feel so strongly that that is acceptable, they should step up and have their genitals inspected if they want to be a lawmaker.
I agree with Dr. Arons, this is an assault on individuals’ personhood.
All of the left-wing wing nuts are just giddy over this Matt Gaetz situation, but their silence regarding Governor Lecher (Andrew Cuomo) is deafening. But hey, everyone knows that hypocrisy is the cornerstone of the left.
“Transgender female” is not exactly the same as female. This is basic science and not up for debate. People with penises, aka men, aka boys, aka males) do not belong in the same physically competitive sports as my daughters and definitely not the same bathroom.