Florida house passes new addition to nationwide anti-transgender panic

Ryan Ehrhart, Staff Writer

The Florida House of Representatives advanced a bill on April 14 that would ban transgender students from participating in sports correlating to their gender identity. 

The “Fairness In Women’s Sports Act” aims to prevent specifically trans girls from participating on women’s teams based on assumptions that those girls would have an unfair advantage. The bill would allow the school to resolve “disputes regarding a student’s sex” by genital inspections, genetic testing or testosterone levels.  

The fallout from this bill could mean that athletes that are trans or gender non-conforming can now be subject to disputes about their gender validity from peers or even from parents. 

“This bill is codifying into law the ability for academic settings and schools to be able to bully and harm our most vulnerable children,” Florida Representative Michele Rayner-Goolsby said. 

Trans children are already subject to bullying and rejection, and bills like this will only further the social ostracization of a group that already has an alarmingly high suicide rate.

The guise of “defending women’s sports” is a very thin smokescreen to cover up plain and simple bigotry. It is clear that this is a bad faith argument when you consider the list of priorities that could seriously improve women’s sports. Women’s sports are systemically underfunded, and female athletes are undervalued and stigmatized, so no –  trans athletes are not the problem here.

Furthermore, bills like this make the sexist assumption that every individual male will perform better than every female. This bill – as with all bigotry – is a product of hysteria fueled by misinformation and pseudoscience.

The concept of this bill isn’t hard to disprove, but that’s not the point. As it stands, SB 2012 seems unlikely to make it onto the Florida Senate floor in this session. Regardless of whether this action ever passes, it is just one attack in the ongoing wave of anti-trans legislation across the country.

Twenty-eight states have considered anti-trans legislation this year. The attacks on trans individuals span from interfering with bathroom usage and athletics to limiting the medical care accessible to children.  

Arkansas has become the first state to pass legislation prohibiting doctors from providing gender-affirming care to minors after the state legislature overrode the governor’s previous veto. Many other states are attempting to criminalize puberty blockers, a popular way that trans children delay puberty in order to enter hormone therapy at around age 16.

In the current day, gays have won many of our legal battles, we have increasingly good representation in media and it is becoming ever more inconvenient to be blatantly homophobic in most settings. Due to these cultural shifts, representatives and propagandists have shifted their focus to attacks on trans people’s existence. It is the duty of the privileged in the LGBTQ+ community and any who consider themselves allies to stand up against the relentless misinformation and fear-mongering against our kin.