Despite Transgender Day of Visibility, FL senators push bill to block some trans athletes from women’s sports

transgender rights
Protestors rally for transgender rights. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Across the globe, March 31st is recognized as Transgender Day of Visibility, a day to highlight the successes and struggles that transgender people experience day-to-day.

But that didn’t stop the Florida Senate committee on Health Policy from voting Wednesday to push forward a bill to block some transgender athletes from women’s sports.

Critics see this as one of many statewide and national efforts to infringe on the rights of transgender people. In Legislatures across the country, transgender bills are moving and some have already been approved.

In Kansas, lawmakers have been considering a bill “requiring all public schools, from elementary through university levels, to designate teams categorized as boys or men, girls or women, as well as coed. The bill forbids any team designated for females to be open to students of the ‘male sex,'” according to the Kansas Reflector. “Verification of biological sex would be conducted through physical examinations or laboratory testing. Any student or institution harmed by violation of the law could file a lawsuit for physical, emotional or psychological harm.”

The Florida bill in question is SB 2012, sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Republican who represents part of Lake and Polk counties. The bill passed in a Senate committee hearing on health policy in a 6 to 4 vote, with Republican senators in favor of the bill. The bill still has a ways to go before the legislative session ends.

But should it pass into law, SB 2012 would prohibit transgender girls from playing women’s sports unless their testosterone levels are below a particular level, meaning that trans women would have to be regularly tested for testosterone levels. This bill is expected to affect middle school, high school, and college athletics.

Stargel argues that the bill would help ensure that there is a level playing field in sports, saying that the bill is “not trying to bar all transgender [athletes] – just making sure that there is not a competitive advantage from that transgender female.”

The worry is that trans women would athletically perform like a cisgender man in women’s competition, creating an unfair advantage for that athlete or the team she plays with. Cisgender means a person who identifies the gender that they were assigned at birth.

Others consider the move as one of many legislative pushes to limit the visibility and rights of transgender people, happening both in Florida and across the nation, as well as an invasion of medical privacy of students.

“It’s simply state sponsored discrimination,”  Sen. Janet Cruz, is a Democrat who represents part of Hillsborough County, said to the committee about the bill. She voted in opposition and reminded the committee that Wednesday is  Transgender Day of Visibility.

Stargel’s bill in the Senate is slightly different from its House companion, HB 1475, which only draws the line on whether a person was assigned male or female at birth and forces athletes to play in those categories.

In the House bill, trans men would play on women’s sports teams, and trans women would play on men’s team.

Stargel said that the Senate version is an attempt to let trans women athletes onto women’s teams so long as there isn’t a competitive advantage based on what sex they were assigned at birth.

Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University, majoring in English with a focus in editing, writing, and media. While at FSU, she served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine, Nomadic Noles. Last fall, she fulfilled another editorial internship with Rowland Publishing, where she wrote for the Tallahassee Magazine, Emerald Coast Magazine, and 850 Business Magazine. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat. She spends her downtime traveling to all corners of Florida and beyond to practice lindy hop.