Florida Governor Starts Pride Month By Signing Anti-Trans Bill Into Law

The legislation would go into effect on July 1, as similar laws multiply across the U.S.prohibiting trans girls and women from participating in girl’s and women's sports.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference at LifeScience Logistics on May 28 2021 | Getty Images
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference at LifeScience Logistics on May 28 2021 | Getty Images

On the first day of Pride Month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill banning trans girls from participating in sports as their gender identity, escalating a broader GOP-led attack on trans youth.

DeSantis signed the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” into law on Tuesday, which applies across all public schools and colleges, including intramural and club sports, excluding elementary schools. Schools will confirm a students’ biological sex based on their birth certificates, according to the law.

The law attracted swift blowback from civil liberties groups, including from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which said Tuesday it would file a lawsuit to block the ban.

According to nonprofit Equality Florida, this is the state’s first anti-LGBTQ+ bill to be signed into law in more than 20 years.

“That is the kind of erasure that makes life more dangerous for those who are already at the highest risk of violence,” Equality Florida wrote on Twitter. “It’s not an accident that when transphobia is spewed from the highest levels of leadership, trans kids take the brunt of the bigotry.”

The new law will take effect July 1, ahead of the start of the new school year, though LGBTQ+ rights organizations are already contesting it.

“Women have fought for decades to have equal opportunities in athletics, and we have to prevent those opportunities from being eroded as is happening in other states. It’s common sense,” Gov. DeSantis said in a statement.

DeSantis’ claims that trans girls and women would have an advantage on sports teams designated for women and girls echoes the same argument other anti-trans laws are based on. But the NCAA, which allows trans women to participate on women’s teams as long as they’re on testosterone suppression therapy, says those claims are “not well founded” and based on assumptions.

“It is important not to overgeneralize,” NCAA policy states. “The assumption that all male-bodied people are taller, stronger, and more highly skilled in a sport than all female-bodied people is not accurate.”

Florida’s law comes after Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and West Virginia have passed similar laws. Idaho was one of the first states to sign an anti-trans ban related to sports into law in 2020. The law has not taken effect because a federal judge signed an injunction in August to give the court time to decide if the law violated Title IX or is considered unconstitutional.

Lambda Legal, a nonprofit that works to protect civil rights of LGBTQ+ people, wrote that Florida’s legislation “promotes exclusion and discrimination against trans youth who deserve the opportunity to participate in sports like their peers.” The organization said it would work with the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and other groups to “protect trans youth.”

“This is yet another hate-driven attack from the governor and Republican legislators, and it's insulting that they've staged this morning's photo-op on the first day of Pride Month,” Florida state Sen. Shevrin Jones (D) told NPR. “At the end of the day, transgender kids are just kids.”

State legislatures have introduced more than 80 anti-trans bills this year, making it a “record year for anti-transgender legislation,” according to HRC.

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