In Florida, lawmakers are working on passing an anti-transgender rights sports bill so invasive and unscientific that it has earned an immediate outcry from experts, advocates, parents, and students themselves.
Deceptively titled the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” the bill, pushed by Representative Kaylee Tuck from Lake Placid, will force trans girls out of team sports and also require that all children accused of playing sports as the “wrong gender” in the K-12 setting and in higher education get their genitals checked by a medical professional.
The bill is, quite simply, anti-scientific, purely political, and puts the rights of children to have bodily privacy and autonomy on hold in order to play team sports. It makes no sense. It will require children, literal children, in kindergarten up all the way to their adulthood, to be potentially subjected to invasive physical exams in order to play softball on the summer YMCA team — about as low as stakes as team sports get.
And even if it were higher stakes, say, a junior varsity soccer team, it still then requires pubescent children to have their genitals and anatomy checked by a medical professional in order to play sports. It’s unnecessary.
It makes no sense, and it harms children. Here’s what you need to know.
What Will the Bill Do, in Full?
The House bill, HB 1475, states that female sports will be only for “biological” women and girls. It will require that a medical professional “verify a student’s sex.” This would apply to all kids, K-12, from age 5 to age 18, and to higher education like college sports.
A similar bill is being debated in the Senate but would, per Politico, allow “athletes who declare as female to participate in sports if their testosterone levels are below a certain mark,” essentially pushing Olympics-level restrictions on trans athletes and how they can participate in sport.
Representative Michele Reyner, a Democrat from St. Petersburg, said of the bill: “As a lawyer, I have been trained to not have emotion when I debate. But we are talking about children … we are talking for children who can’t speak for themselves,” according to FloridaPolitics.com.
“I have struggled with this bill. I have struggled to understand why this is necessary. I have struggled to contemplate with everything going on in our state … that this is the bill. And I have struggled when we know the devastating impact this will have on children, why this bill even got to the floor.”
She also added that allowing a third-party official to inspect the genitals of children is “state-sanctioned sexual assault against children.”
How Anti-Science Is It?
Secondly, to require genital checks for kids ignores the reality that sex, a lot like gender, does not exist on a rigid binary. Many people are intersex. Being intersex can mean many things: you could have genitals or internal sex organs that fall out of the rigid biological sex binary, or a combination of chromosomes that don’t correspond to the XX and XY distinctions. Basically, just like gender, sex is not binary. All people can have differing chromosomes, genitals, and more, no matter how they appear or identify.
A genital check, therefore, is not a meaningful way to determine a kid’s “biological makeup” — which is an inherently flawed way to talk about sex.
Even in cisgender people, there is an extremely wide variance of hormone levels in every single person, making those Olympic-level hormone checks questionable. These hormones are not proven to correspond to a 1:1 of athletic performance or dominance.
Chromosomes are not cut and dry. Just as gender exists on a spectrum, biological sex — which Representative Kaylee Tuck believes occurs on a rigid binary — is full of variance and difference. The bill is anti-science, anti-kid, and anti-trans rights. What a trifecta.
Will The Bill Pass?
The bill, after hours and hours of debate and attempts to kill it from Democrats in the Florida Senate, will move on to the Senate for debate and potential passage by Republican Governor Rick Desantis. The Senate debate is delayed because Florida’s legislature is very busy right now — but the Senate version of the bill could resurface in a few days.
Given that Arkansas managed to pass a bill that criminalized medical care for trans kids, after passing a bill banning transgender children from sports, and the dozens and dozens of measures across the country are working to do both as well, it’s highly possible DeSantis could pass the bill.
What Will Happen If It Does?
The NCAA has already told the country that they will pull all events out of any state that passes harmful bills such as this, stating that any state that doesn’t treat student-athletes with “dignity and respect” would not be able to host future NCAA championship games.
The physical health, mental health, and safety of cisgender and transgender student-athletes alike will be put at risk.
Businesses, productions, sports, and more will likely pull out of states that continue to pass these bills, meaning that the state could be punished economically for the actions of a few dozen lawmakers in power.