ACLU of Florida: House legislation on transgender athletes is ‘unconstitutional’

Florida State University women's soccer. Credit: YouTube, 2018.

As a part of a nationwide effort to legislate the lives of transgender people, the Florida House continued its push Tuesday to bar transgender athletes from participating in the sports that align with their gender.

The House Education & Employment Committee passed HB 1475, another step toward limiting the choices for transgender athletes.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida calls the effort “unconstitutional” and in violation of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.

“HB 1475 is part of a coordinated, national attack on transgender kids that will discriminate against trans youth in ways that endanger their health, social and emotional development and safety,” Kara Gross, ACLU of Florida’s legislative director and senior policy counsel, said in a written statement.

The bill would prohibit transgender athletes from competing on teams that match their gender identity — instead, forcing them to play on the team that matches the sex they were assigned at birth.

“This bill excludes transgender girls in elementary school, middle school, high school, and beyond from playing sports with their peers,” Gross, of the ACLU of Florida argues in the written statement. “When transgender classmates are welcomed into school sports, students are taught acceptance and inclusivity, rather than discrimination and hate.”

The stated intention of the bill is “to promote sex equality by requiring the designation of separate sex-specific athletic teams or sports,” with a primary focus on women’s sports.

Supporters of the bill are concerned that transgender women will inherently perform better than there cisgender peers if allowed on the women’s team. Cisgender refers to a person who identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth.

But there are concerns the bill would subject young transgender athletes to invasive medical exams.

If there is a dispute on the “biological sex” of an athlete, the bill would require that a health care provider verifies a students sex through “the student’s reproductive anatomy; the student’s genetic makeup; or the student’s normal endogenously produced testosterone levels.”

A Senate companion bill would allow some transgender people to play on a woman’s team, so long as their testosterone is below a certain level.

According to the Idaho Capital Sun, there are 30 states, including Florida, are considering similar legislation.

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.