LGBTQ Advocates Condemn DeSantis Over Signing Of Transgender Athlete Sports Ban
LGBTQ advocates are criticizing Governor Ron DeSantis's decision to sign into law a bill that bans transgender women and girls from competing on female school sports teams. The signing comes on the first day of Pride Month.
"This is not a coincidence to entirely disregard and devalue our community on the first day that we should be celebrating our identity as a community is something that we will not forget," Alphonso David with the Human Rights Campaign says.
His organization plans to challenge the law that would force transgender women and girls to play on male sports teams.
"The naysayers are going to lose this battle. They have fought us for decades, and they have lost, and they will continue to lose," David says.
Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) helped push the bill forward last session. She says the new law isn't meant to be discriminatory.
"This bill is very simply about making sure that women can safely compete, have opportunities, and physically be able to excel in a sport that they've trained for, prepared for, and worked for," Stargel says.
Supporters of the new law say it's needed because transgender women could have a competitive advantage in sports. They often point to a pair of transgender women in Connecticut who beat their cisgender counterparts in high school track team competitions. Both those women are Black, and David says the reasoning for the ban is not only rooted in transphobia but also racism.
"The images that proponents of these bills most often use are Black trans women and girls. Black girls and women have had their bodies constantly policed in athletics and beyond, and these bills are another hateful take," David says.
A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that would have stopped the two transgender women in Connecticut from competing in female sports. Since 2013, 11 transgender students have applied for and been approved to play on the team that aligns with their gender identity in Florida. Rep. Carlos Guillermo (D-Winter Park) Smith says those students have been able to compete without incident.
"Proponents of the bill could not find a single incident or issue that came up as a result of that 2013 policy," Smith says.
Megan Titcomb is the mother of a transgender girl. She says conversations at the dinner table have been hard since lawmakers have taken up the bill.
"It's just not fair. It's hard as a parent to tell your kid, 'I'm sorry honey, you can't play, but I can't explain why,' and there's nothing I can do about it other than move out of the state. And I know a lot of parents in a lot of other states fighting similar issues, and we can't all just keep moving around hoping to find a better life for our kids like that's not the answer," Titcomb says.
Titcomb says protections will have to come down from a national level to protect transgender kids. Seven other states have passed similar laws to Florida's transgender sports ban.