Florida House poised to pass bill barring transgender females from playing in girls’, womens’ sports

Proponents say play should be based on biological gender

The Florida House is poised to pass a measure that would bar transgender females from participating in girls’ and women’s high-school and college sports, amid fierce opposition from Democrats and warnings about potential financial repercussions.

The House on Tuesday took up the so-called “Fairness In Women’s Sports Act” (HB 1475), positioning it for a vote on Wednesday. The proposal would make participation in athletics contingent on determining students’ “biological sex,” a disputed term that refers to the sex assigned at birth.

Bill sponsor Kaylee Tuck, R-Lake Placid, said the measure is aimed at ensuring that women and girls do not become “sideline spectators in their own sports.” Central to her argument is an assertion that males have an advantage over females in playing sports.

“We are not trying to stop anybody from playing sports. We are simply asking that they play based on their biological gender so we can preserve women’s sports and protect women’s safety,” Tuck said.

During hours of debate Tuesday, House Democrats made impassioned objections to the measure, arguing that it targets already-vulnerable transgender teens and adults.

“We understand the experiences of discrimination, we understand the experiences of the most marginalized amongst us,” Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, said.

Republicans, who hold a huge majority in the House, defeated 24 amendments proposed by Democrats, including one that would have exempted elementary and middle school students from the measure.

The Florida High School Athletic Association and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, governing organizations of high school and college sports, have rules addressing the participation of transgender students in sports.