Florida’s House passed a bill last week that would bar transgender athletes from participating in girls and women’s scholastic sports. The legislation, modeled after a bill passed in Idaho, is one of dozens of similar efforts by GOP lawmakers in 30 states. But Florida’s bill “goes even further by giving schools the power to conduct genital examinations,” The Hill reports.
Under the legislation, a school or rival athlete could file a complaint if they suspect a competitor in a female sporting event was not assigned the female gender at birth, and the athlete would then have to prove she was born a “biological” girl. They could “prove their birth gender via a genetic test, a test of their testosterone levels, or an examination of their reproductive anatomy by a medical professional,” the Tampa Bay Times explains. “The ‘reproductive anatomy’ language was a major point of controversy for House Democrats, who argued the provision amounted to the state legalizing ‘genital inspections.'”
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Supporters of the bill argue it protects female athletes from unfair competition. Detractors say that, apart from the intrusive anatomical inspections of minors, it harms an already marginalized group of kids and, at best, tries to tackle a nonexistent problem.
The Florida High School Athletic Association and the National Collegiate Athletic Association both have policies allowing transgender athletes to compete in sports, and the NCAA warned states last week that it will pull championships from states that limit transgender participation. “Florida is set to host more than 40 regional or national NCAA championship events between the next academic year and May of 2026,” the Tampa Bay Times notes.
The House passed its version of the bill 77 to 40, mostly along party lines, but it may not get a hearing in the state Senate before the legislative session ends April 30. The Senate version of the bill allowed transgender athletes to compete if their testosterone levels were low enough, but its sponsor, Sen. Kelli Stargel (R), amended it Monday night to make it nearly identical to the House version — with the exception it lets the Florida Board of Education decide how to settle disputes around a student’s gender and sex. “Andy Tuck, the Board of Education’s chair, is the father of the House sponsor of HB 1475, Rep. Kaylee Tuck (R),” the Tampa Bay Times adds.