Florida’s Republican governor has signed a bill banning transgender women from playing on public school teams designed for student athletes born as girls, plunging the state into the national culture war over transgender rights.
“In Florida, girls are going to play girls’ sports and boys play boys’ sports,” Governor Ron DeSantis said on Tuesday as he signed the bill at a Christian academy in Jacksonville. “We’re going to make sure that’s the reality.”
The new law, sure to face legal challenges, sparks an already controversial discussion that is unfolding nationally as Republican-controlled states seek to limit the rights of LGBTQ people. It can also have serious financial implications for Florida.
Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee and West Virginia have already passed similar legislation, and the South Dakota governor has signed an executive order in support of a sports ban. They all have Republican governors.
Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill banning transgender women from playing on Florida public school teams designed for student-athletes born as girls
Supporters of the sports laws say they are needed to maintain fairness, and argue that biologically born women and girls would be at a disadvantage compared to transgender athletes who were born male but have since transitioned to female.
The Florida law rejected the objection of Democrats and civil rights advocates calling banning transgender girls and women from sports unnecessary and discriminatory and accusing Republicans of portraying them as provocation to reinvigorate the right wing of their party. to blow.
The NCAA, which oversees college athletics, has threatened to move major competitions from states that discriminate against certain athletes.
When the Florida legislature considered the measure in April, the NCAA said it would assign championship games to “locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination.”
High-end athletic events, such as football games and basketball tournaments, generate millions of dollars for local communities.
The measure approved by the GOP-led legislature will take effect July 1. It states that a transgender student athlete cannot participate without first showing a birth certificate stating that she was a girl when she was born.
It is not clear whether all women are required to show their birth certificates, or only those whose gender is being questioned. The proposal allows another student to sue if a school allows a transgender girl or transgender woman to play on a team designed for biological women.
Protesters demonstrate in March against a law banning transgender girls from participating in sports teams in Pierre, South Dakota. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem imposed the ban by executive order
The final wording of the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act removed some of its most controversial elements, including a requirement that transgender athletes in high schools and colleges undergo testosterone or genetic testing and submit to having their genitals examined.
But the legislation signed by the governor promotes an underlying principle claimed by supporters: Biological differences between men and women make it unfair for athletes identified as boys at birth to compete in girls’ and women’s teams.
The law would not prohibit athletes born as women from playing on boys’ or men’s teams.
Alphonso David, president of the human rights campaign, said the new law would not only harm transgender girls.
“All Floridians will have to face the consequences of these anti-transgender laws, including economic damage, expensive taxpayer-funded legal battles and a tarnished reputation.”
Democrats and LGBTQ advocates said the law is clearly discriminatory and will be challenged in court as unconstitutional.
“This is another hate-driven attack by the governor and Republican lawmakers, and it’s insulting that they held the photo shoot this morning on the first day of Pride Month,” Senator Shevrin Jones said after signing the bill. “In the end, transgender kids are just kids.”
The ban was tucked away at the last minute of the legislative session in a measure that allowed public universities and colleges to sponsor charter schools — a point the governor did not mention when signing the bill. It was the determination of transgender athletes that was central to Tuesday’s rhetoric.
“This bill is simply about ensuring that women can compete safely, have opportunities, and excel physically in a sport they’ve trained for, prepared for, and work for,” said Senator Kelli Stargel, a Republican who supported the bill. bill. .
“This is not about anyone being discriminated against,” she said. ‘Just to give women the opportunity to participate in women’s sport.’
Florida’s law mirrors an Idaho law, the first of its kind when passed last year, that is now mired in legal challenges.