Politics

13-year-old transgender girl sues Florida after governor celebrated Pride Month with anti-trans law

Gov. Ron DeSantis
Gov. Ron DeSantisPhoto: Shutterstock

A transgender teen from Broward County is suing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for the right to play sports on girls’ teams at her public school.

On June 1, the first day of Pride Month, DeSantis signed S.B. 1028 into law, requiring girls whose gender is “disputed” (or all girls who want to participate in school sports, the bill is not clear) to show a birth certificate from “at or near birth.”

Related: Louisiana Governor vetoes bill banning transgender girls from playing school sports

“In Florida, girls are going to play girls sports and boys are going to play boys sports,” DeSantis said at the bill-signing ceremony, which took place in a Christian school in Jacksonville. “We’re going to make sure that that’s the reality.”

Thirteen-year-old Daisy alleges that the law discriminates against her and takes important opportunities away from her.

Daisy has spent the past five years playing sports on girls’ teams, but starting Thursday the new law will take away her ability to do so.

The Human Rights Campaign filed the lawsuit on Daisy’s behalf. It alleges the Florida law violates Title IX, the federal law that bans discrimination in education on the basis of sex.

According to the Associated Press, the complaint explains that Daisy has no advantage over the other girls on her team because she has been taking puberty blockers since she was 11 and started taking estrogen this year.

“If [Daisy] does not have the option to play girls’ sports in high school and college, she will not be able to play sports at all and will lose the benefits of being part of the team network that has supported her emotionally and psychologically,” the lawsuit said. “She may be isolated and face emotional and mental confusion and emotional distress during this critical period of her social and psychological development.”

It also warned that the law “sends a message to [her] current and future teammates that there is something wrong with her.”

In a press release from HRC, Daisy said, “Playing sports makes me feel like I fit in, the thought of not being able to play next year scares me. I’m going to be lonely and sad if I can’t play.”

The press release explained that Daisy plays basketball, softball, and soccer and has only ever played sports on girls’ teams.

Daisy’s parents, Jessica and Gary, also released statements through the press release.

“It is a very helpless feeling to know that people think our daughter does not deserve the rights to play sports with her friends—she has been playing with them for the last seven years and it has not been an issue,” they said.

“Taking this right away will only further isolate her from her peers and take away her ‘safe space,’” they continued. “She is just a girl that wants to play sports with her friends and be part of a team. As her parents, we just want her to be happy.”

HRC voiced its intention to sue DeSantis the day he signed the anti-trans bill into law.

“Lawmakers across the country who support these bills have failed to provide examples of any issue in their states to attempt to justify these attacks on transgender youth,” the organization said in a June 1 statement, “laying bare the reality that they are fueled by discriminatory intent and not supported by fact.”

As a rash of anti-trans bills continue to be signed into law around the country, more lawsuits like this one are inevitable.

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against a similar bill in West Virginia on behalf of Becky Pepper-Jackson, an 11-year-old trans girl who wants to join her sixth grade girls’ cross-country team but was refused because of the state law. Her principal even said that it would be “confusing” for her to run on the boys’ team because she is a girl.

In its announcement of Daisy’s lawsuit, HRC said it would soon introduce more lawsuits over anti-LGBTQ laws in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

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