Bill banning transgender athletes from women’s sports in Florida clears first hurdle

Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 4:35 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPS NEWS/WCJB) - A bill seeking to ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s only leagues associated with educational institutions was given initial approval by a House committee Wednesday.

Advocates for the transgender community came out in force to oppose what they consider a discriminatory piece of legislation.

Florida is one of 25 states considering legislation that would ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s only leagues.

Bill sponsor Rep. Kaylee Tuck said it’s about fairness.

“Nearly 50 years after Title IX all gains women have made athletically could be wiped away. The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act is intended to make sure that doesn’t happen,” said Tuck.

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But in the bill’s first hearing, parents of trans-children said the legislation feels like discrimination.

“Do not deny her the rights that I had as a kid growing up,” said Jesse Jones, who has a transgender daughter.

Others went further.

“I have watched their pain and I have watched their suffering and this will bring more of that,” said Nathan Bruemmer, who is himself transgender and the former Executive Director of ALSO Youth in Sarasota.

The bill would allow trans athletes to compete in co-ed leagues or against men, but advocates said it’s not enough.

Gina Duncan with Equality Florida said the legislation is unconstitutional, pointing to a similar law blocked by a federal court in Idaho.

“They’re not really about sports. These bills are about marginalizing and demonizing transgender Americans,” said Duncan.

But Tuck said that case still has a long way to go and she believes protections for women in Title IX will ultimately uphold the law.

“We’re just asking that the biological differences are recognized between men and women and the sports teams reflect that,” said Tuck.

Tuck told us she’s willing to consider amending the bill, perhaps adopting language from a senate bill that does allow trans athletes to compete in women’s sports under certain circumstances.

The Senate legislation, which has not been scheduled for a hearing, would allow transgender athletes to compete in women’s leagues if they have maintained a specified level of testosterone for a year.

Transgender advocates argue even that proposal, would place an undo burden on the transgender community.

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