A 13-year-old Broward County soccer player and her parents are challenging a a new state law that bans transgender female athletes from participating on girls’ and women’s sports teams, arguing that it is unconstitutional and “ignores basic medical science” about trans students.
The measure (SB 1028), one of the most hotly debated issues of the 2021 legislative session, will make female athletes’ eligibility for sports teams contingent on their “biological sex” on birth certificates issued “at or near the time of the student’s birth.”
The legislation, signed June 1 by Gov. Ron DeSantis, is similar to proposals considered or passed this year by numerous other Republican-controlled legislatures across the country.
In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Southern District of Florida, lawyers for the student identified by the initials D.N. and her parents alleged that the new law will force her to abandon “the sports that mean so much to her” because she will not be able to participate on high-school girls’ athletic teams.
The ban is unconstitutionally discriminatory and violates a federal law, known as Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools or education programs that receive federal money, the lawsuit said.
D.N. would be “sidelined and ostracized solely because of her gender identity” if she isn’t allowed to play on girls’ and women’s teams, lawyers with the Human Rights Campaign, a national non-profit organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights, and the Arnold & Porter firm wrote in the 20-page complaint.
According to the lawsuit, D.N. has identified as a girl since she was a young child and has participated in girls’ sports for many years.
“D.N. dreams of being on high school sports teams, whether it is in soccer or volleyball. She cannot imagine life without these experiences and feels it would be cruel to take this opportunity away from her. D.N. has lived as a girl for years now and this is her true identity,” her lawyers argued.
Republican lawmakers tucked the transgender athlete ban into a wide-ranging education bill in an eleventh-hour move during the legislative session that ended April 30. DeSantis and other supporters maintain that the ban is necessary to prevent male athletes from having a competitive edge over female competitors.
“I can tell you this, in Florida, girls are going to play girls’ sports, and boys are going to play boys’ sports. That’s what we’re doing, and we’re going to make sure that that’s the reality,” DeSantis said as he signed the bill on the first day of June’s Pride Month.
But critics contend that the ban will further isolate transgender students who are already at risk of being bullied or worse.
D.N., referred to as “Daisy” in a news release issued Wednesday by the Human Rights Campaign, takes estrogen and her testosterone levels have been suppressed for more than a year, her attorneys said in the lawsuit.
“D.N.’s identity and development are that of a girl and she is on estrogen. She has no competitive advantage merely because of the sex assigned to her at birth. Now and when she enters high school, from an athletic perspective, she is similarly situated to her cisgender female teammates,” they argued.
The state law runs afoul of Title IX and federal regulations, which do not permit “a state or locality to discriminate based solely on a person’s gender assigned to them at birth,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers said. The law also violates transgender female athletes’ equal protection rights, the lawyers argued, because “it is neither tailored to the achievement of a compelling governmental interest nor substantially related to an important state interest.”
“Florida’s purported state interest in athletic ‘fairness’ ignores basic medical science about transgender students, as well as the impact of hormone suppressants,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys wrote.
Under the new law, other students who contend they are “deprived of an athletic opportunity” or suffer “direct or indirect harm” because of violations of the trangender ban will be able to sue schools or colleges.
Transgender girls “must now face the risk their participation will be subject to legal challenge,” D.N.’s lawyers wrote. “Any such suit would, of necessity, require production of private medical and academic records, which in any other context would not be available to other students or those students’ families, let alone the general public.”
The law would subject D.N. “to an invasion of privacy” if she had to participate on boys’ teams and use boys’ locker rooms, although she is receiving estrogen and will continue to develop as a girl through puberty, her lawyers said.
“Her social network and support system are the girls on her team, and she would be ostracized and bullied if she were to be forced to be on a boys’ team. Compelling her to be on the boys’ team also would force her to disclose her transgender status to the entire school,” they argued.
The ban violates transgender female athletes’ constitutional right to privacy, wrote D.N.’s lawyers, who are asking a judge for an injunction against the law.
In a statement provided to The News Service of Florida, House Speaker Chris Sprowls defended the new law, dubbed the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.”
“We believe in protecting the integrity of women’s sports and this legislation ensures that they can have the same opportunities as anyone else without unfair competition. The legislation is the result of rigorous dialogue and grounded in fact-based science. I trust the court system will ultimately rule on the side of Florida’s athletes and not corporate pressure,” Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, said.
Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for DeSantis, said Wednesday that the governor’s office had not been served in the lawsuit yet “but we believe the case to be without merit.”
The Human Rights Campaign also plans to challenge similar laws in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, according to Wednesday’s news release.
“Given the unprecedented onslaught of state legislative attacks, we have a responsibility to utilize every tool in our belt to safeguard the LGBTQ community, including suing the states that infringe upon our civil rights,” said Alphonso David, the organization’s president. “On the first day of Pride Month, a moment of celebration, Gov. DeSantis signed a bill into law attacking transgender children—now, on the last day of Pride, we are sending a message to him, and all anti-equality officials, that you cannot target our community without retribution.”
–Dara Kam, News Service of Florida
Go Get ‘em Girl says
Go get ‘em girl.
Look, it’s as simple as their body, their choice. Period. If their parents support their transition, then why exactly would I get involved? It’s not my child. It’s none of my business. Their decision to transition has zero impact on how I live my life.
At the end of the day, they bleed the same as I bleed. They (adults) have the same concerns as I do—health care, taxes, equality, climate, etc. They want the same thing as I do—happiness. 🏳️⚧️🏳️🌈
Well, maybe the problem is that it DOESN’T affect you, but it does affect any female athlete who is forced to compete against a biological male and loses out on a scholarship or championship she would have won. It is in fact happening around the country and natural born females are also suing to defend their rights.
No discrimination here. Just look in your pants to determine what sex snd tram you should be on. If still confused, seek a medical professional so they can tell you the difference
So if the gender neutral / no identity “thing” is meant to define “sex neutral” – and boys are girls and girls are boys- we can just cancel boys and girls sports and put everyone in a competition together..we are all equal right? Wonder who would win the “weight lifting” for example..we have lost our minds!
Dennis C Rathsam says
OH what a tangled web we weave…..Boys are boys…Girls are girls…Thats the way it is, thats the way it was, dont fix whats not broke. If you were born girl or boy….thats who you are. If you were born a boy, you should not compete as a girl, its just not fair.PERIOD
Who sent florida back to the dark ages? What a disgusting state with horrible laws. I hope the state gets sued over and over and over again until the due the right thing for our Trans children.
If I felt that strongly, I would move to another state. As a Floridian, I completely support the ban on men competing in women’s sports. However, I’m sure there are proud fathers cheering their sons as they compete against girls.
This is an EASY fix. Create a new gender category for them to compete amongst themselves called Trans. Males compete against other males, females compete against other females and trans compete against other trans. it doesn’t get any simpler than that. End of discussion!
A Concerned Observer says
I understand that homosexuality and transgender are two different issues. This comment addresses attempting to change sex only. A medical question if I may be so allowed. As I understand, there are three parts to the “gender recertification” process; hormone treatment, surgery and gender specific training to achieve the desired gender specific traits. The hormones affect the “feelings” and growth of some gender specific body parts and traits. As I understand, if a male receives Progesterone (such as during prostate cancer treatment), they can develop non-functional breasts (gynecomastia) and loose male sexual desire. If they desire to transgender, they may choose to have their penis and testicles removed surgically but they will never grow a vagina, ovaries or other female specific body parts. Conversely, when a female receives Testosterone, they experience increased body hair, muscle growth and some other male attributes, but will never grow a penis or testicles. My question is that if a female who is experiencing feelings that she is more masculine than feminine, or if a male feels they more feminine than masculine, could their feelings be successfully realigned with the gender appropriate hormone treatment to bring their “feelings” in concert with their biological reality? If so, successfully changing the way they feel about themselves would seem to be far less invasive and would make much more sense than trying to surgically add or remove body parts. Face it; if a male that trans genders into a female, they eventually may “look” and act somewhat like a female but they will never be able to have children. If a female trans genders to a male, they may also “look” and act somewhat like a male, they will never be able to fertilize a human embryo to produce a child. They are fooling only themselves.
What about the girl that was born a girl thats busted her behind to perfect her craft? Then is forced to go head to head with the 6′ 2″ opponent that was a boy last year? Where’s her rights? What if it was your daughter or granddaughter you drove to see compete in a district or state high school finals? And she came in 3rd to 2 transgender athletes that were really boys? She’d be crushed, you’d be furious. Theres scholarships on the line for these girls. So wheres their rights?
Land of no turn signals says says
The term “ignores basic medical science” to me it says it all.Look in your draws that should say it all.Works for bathrooms too.
Christopher Todd Lemke says
SImple solution here: Transgenders should simply start their own teams/leagues. Problem solved.