News (USA)

Florida trans sports ban fails in senate after “genital examinations” controversy

The trans flag at an August 21, 2017 protest
Photo: Shutterstock

Last week, a Florida House bill made national headlines because it called for genital, DNA, and hormone exams of girls who want to participate in school sports in order to ban transgender student-athletes. But now similar legislation has stalled in the state senate.

Florida Sen. Kelli Stargel (R) sponsored S.B. 2012, but she acknowledged that it might pose problems for the “inherent dignity of each person.” She has asked the state Senate Rules Committee to set it aside “as we continue to work on this issue.”

Related: Tulsi Gabbard introduces anti-trans legislation that could lead to genital exams for school girls

“I believe Florida should protect the ability of girls and women to safely participate in athletics, and I think there is consensus among my colleagues surrounding that underlying policy objective,” Stargel said in a statement. “We want to get there in a manner that respects the inherent dignity of each person, while at the same time acknowledging the fact that the biological differences between men and women can be significant, and can vary based on how far along a person is within their transition.”

She said that she wants to devote her time this year to budget negotiations.

Last week, H.B. 1475 passed with a 77-40 vote in the state’s House of Representatives. The bill banned transgender girls from participating in school sports as their gender.

In many other states, these bills have either been vague about how sex will be determined or point to birth certificates. The Florida bill, however, says that a female student-athlete’s sex can be disputed, and a dispute would require a “health examination and consent form or another statement from the student’s health care provider to verify the student’s biological sex.”

Equality Florida called the bill “cruel and grotesque.”

After the bill passed the house, the attention turned to the senate. S.B. 2012, though, is written differently. The bill would also ban most transgender girls from participating in school sports, but it has an exemption for trans girls who meet the hormone level requirements that some professional athletic associations require of trans women, which would be difficult for many trans teens.

“A 12-year-old trans female youth would be forced to adhere to Olympic standards for testosterone levels,” Said Brandon J. Wolf of Equality Florida.

The senate bill also doesn’t include a definition of male or female, despite the fact that most of the bill depends on the definitions of those categories.

But that question will have to be resolved at a later date, perhaps not in this session, Stargel said.

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