Transgender girls and women can no longer compete in school sports in Florida after Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed the “Fairness In Women’s Sports Act,” which says that “athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls may not be open to students of the male sex.”
The law, signed by DeSantis on the first day of Pride month, means that transgender women who were assigned male at birth but now identify as female are not allowed to play sports competitively in public high schools or college women’s teams in Florida. It extends to public “interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletic teams or sports.”
DeSantis claims that the law is “protecting the fairness and the integrity of women’s athletics.” Yet, it allows “students of the female sex” to play on “athletic teams or sports designated for males, men, or boys.” “We’re gonna go based off biology, not based off ideology when we’re doing sports,” DeSantis said.
There have been more than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in 33 state legislatures this year across America, more than 120 have focused on restricting trans rights, particularly in healthcare and access to sports. 24 anti-LGBTQ bills have been passed into law.
Alongside Florida, exclusionary sports bills have also been signed into law in Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Montana, Tennessee, South Dakota, and West Virginia. The Florida bill, and DeSantis’ signing of it, was condemned by LGBTQ organizations.
“We need to be clear about the message of this hateful bill: Governor DeSantis and GOP leaders in the legislature are not concerned about athletics, they simply don’t believe that transgender people exist,” said Gina Duncan, Equality Florida Director of Transgender Equality, in a statement. “That is the kind of erasure that makes life more dangerous for those who are already at the highest risk of violence.
“Last week, we saw a horrifying story of violence against a transgender girl in her school in Deerfield Beach. It’s not an accident that when transphobia is spewed from the highest levels of leadership, trans kids take the brunt of the bigotry. This bill is shameful, violent, and just made the world less safe for our most vulnerable young people.”
“This Pride Month, and every month, we must send a strong message to transgender and nonbinary youth that they should be proud of who they are and deserve the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.”
— Sam Brinton
“On the first day of LGBTQ Pride Month—and after a year in which more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered attempting suicide—it is unconscionable that Florida politicians would go out of their way to target trans youth. This group of young people desperately needs more support, not to be further marginalized and attacked by those in positions of power,” said Sam Brinton, Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project, in a statement.
“These sports bans are as unfair and unnecessary as they are dangerous. When a trans young person is told they cannot play the sport they love solely because of who they are, it can be incredibly harmful to their mental health and sense of self, and contribute to increased risk for suicide. This Pride Month, and every month, we must send a strong message to transgender and nonbinary youth that they should be proud of who they are and deserve the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.”
Earlier this year, the NCAA said it would think about pulling championships from states that ban transgender athletes from competing in sports.
“When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected,” a statement from the organization read. “We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants.”
The NCAA has been criticized for the vagueness of its intentions by LGBTQ organizations.