Legislation requiring transgender female student-athletes to play sports on all-boys teams passed Wednesday in the Florida House of Representatives. But the bill’s future in that state’s Senate remains shaky.
Florida representatives passed the bill, House Bill 1475, even after the National Collegiate Athletic Association made clear it could pull national championship sporting events from states that bar athletes from competing based on their gender identity. In the case of Florida, that could mean the loss of 50 events with a $75 million economic impact. The Republican-controlled chamber still passed the bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Kaylee Tuck. She said the bill will protect the integrity of women’s sports. “We should make sure women don’t become sideline spectators in their own sports,” Tuck said.
One conservative Democrat, Rep. James Bush of Miami, even argued the bill would protect the safety of female players, as he claimed at risk of being hurt by trans girls. “It’s a bill put in place to make sure males as well as females are protected when they are on the gridiron,” Bush said. “There is a difference between male and female when they are engaged in athletics.”
The bill, which affects sports in public schools and state colleges and universities, passed on a near-party line vote, even as LGBTQ+ Florida lawmakers pleaded and openly wept at what they called an attack on children.
“You cannot vote for this bill and say you love God, and say you love people, and put God’s children, his babies, in a place that is untenable,” said Democratic Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby, the only lesbian serving in the chamber.
Trans-exclusionary sports bills have been signed into law this year in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee, and executive orders to that effect have been issued in South Dakota. West Virginia will likely be the next state with such a law. The bills are part of a rash of anti-trans legislation introduced in states around the nation in 2021.