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Fla. Vice Mayor Challenges Trans Woman to Arm Wrestle at City Meeting

Heather Moraitis and Carvelle Estriplet

The contentious exchange took place at a Fort Lauderdale City Commission meeting.

 

When the Fort Lauderdale City Commission met on Tuesday, it was supposed to be about business, local issues, and working together for the city, but Vice Mayor Heather Moraitis had another idea.

During the neighborhood presentation portion of the meeting, one local business owner, Carvelle Estriplet, a Black trans woman, stepped before the commision and addressed members who voted against a recent resolution condemning anti-trans bills in the state. When she did, Moraitis interrupted her, misgendered her, and even challenged her to an arm wrestling match.

The resolution Estriplet was talking about was in response to Florida HB 1475 and SB 2012 which would force trans athletes to play on the wrong teams. The resolution against the laws passed the commission 3-1, with Moraitis voting no and Commissioner Robert McKinzie not present. McKinzie had previously said in discussions that he was against the resolution.

Estriplet first thanked the members who voted in favor of the resolution, before turning her attention to McKinzie and Moraitis. "Commissioner McKinzie, I just want to inform you that Black trans lives matter as well," she said to McKinzie, who is also Black.

"It's so hypocritical, vice mayor, that you champion yourself as a Christian," she said to Moraitis. "You champion yourself that you are for women's rights. You champion yourself that you want to help the underdog, but you're being hypocritical."

Moraitis replied that she wanted to hear Estriplet's point of view, but that hers is different. "I do have to say, I think you have a physical advantage over me, being born a biological female," she told Estriplet. "I have to look at Caitlyn Jenner, what she said this week. I have to look at people who also have experience and see what they say."

Moraitis was referencing recent comments made by Jenner, who announced that she will be running for governor of California to replace Gavin Newsom. After announcing, she was approached by a reporter for TMZ who asked her to comment on anti-trans bills being introduced across the country, and specifically sports-related legislation. "This is a question of fairness, that's why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls' sports in school. It just isn't fair and we have to protect girls' sports," she said.

After making a point about Jenner, Moraitis moved on to personal attacks on Estriplet, who owns Carvelle Bikes and is a recent appointee to the Wilton Manors Community Affairs Advisory Board.

"I mean, I'm looking at your body, do you want to stand next to me, and see how different you look" Moraitis asked Estriplet. "Do you want to arm wrestle me? I mean I know you're stronger than me." When Estriplet replied that she has no interest in competing in sports, Moraitis said, "I do believe that men are biologically bigger," prompting Estriplet to ask, "and you're calling me a man? That's what you're saying?"

The Florida senate recently used a procedural shortcut to pass the state's anti-trans sports bill, and is now waiting on Republican governor Ron DeSantis to sign or veto the measure. Originally, the bill would have allowed school officials to inspect a child's genitals to verify their gender, but this version uses gender assigned on birth certificates to determine eligibility. Most expect DeSantis to sign the bill into law.

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