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Bill Relating To Sports Eligibility For Transgender Women Heads To Florida House

Female soccer player kicking ball at the stadium
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A pair of bills moving through the Florida Legislature would require high school and college athletic teams to recruit athletes based on their biological sex.

Proposals aiming to restrict sports eligibility for transgender woman have been steadily moving in the Florida House and Senate. The House Education & Employment Committee is the latest to approve HB 1475, a bill that requires men's and women’s athletic teams to recruit athletes based on their biological sex.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Kaylee Tuck, R-Sebring, who is seeking to prevent biological males who transition into transgender women from playing on women’s sports teams. Tuck believes transgender women pose an unfair physical advantage in athletic competition.

“In Connecticut, two biological males who identify as female won 15 high school track and field championships between 2017 and 2019. In 2016, nine different biological females held those same state titles,” Tuck told lawmakers.

The measure has sparked heavy debate during legislative committee stops, with supporters claiming biological females may face injury playing against transgender women.

“Has there been any reported instances of trans girls in Florida in middle school, high school, or college level that have injured another girl?” asked Rep. Kristen Arrington, D-Kissimmee. “Not that we know of in Florida,” responded Tuck, “but there have been other instances out of state. We want to make sure that we’re proactive in Florida so it doesn’t happen here.”

The NCAA and the Florida High School Athletic Association have protocols that address a trans athlete's eligibility. Tuck’s bill would essentially preempt those policies.

LGBTQ advocates strongly oppose the measure, saying it discriminates against a transgender woman’s right to play sports.

“This legislature is poised to pass in 2021 the first law intended to categorically discriminate against the LGBTQ community in Florida in 23 years -- among the worst in Florida’s history and certainly the worst attack we’ve seen on the transgender community,” said Jon Harris Maurer with Equality Florida during public testimony on the bill. “We know that this is part of a nationally coordinated attack on transgender kids because it’s a cheap and easy political target. I’ll remind you that no one is saying there aren’t differences. We’re saying the bill doesn’t address them and that existing policy already does.”

The bill is now ready for the House floor.