Florida Bill Would Allow Genital Exams of Trans Athletes

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A bill recently passed by the Florida House would prohibit transgender women and girls from competing on collegiate or high school sports teams — and would permit doctors to “verify the student’s biological sex” if a student-athlete’s gender comes under dispute.

Orlando Weekly reports that a provision of HB 1475, titled the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” would allow for health care providers to determine sex based on reproductive anatomy, genetic makeup or “normal endogenously produced testosterone levels.”

The issue of genital exams caused Rep. Michele Rayner, a St. Petersburg Democrat, to liken the provision to “state-sanctioned sexual assault against children.”

The bill passed the Florida House by a margin of 77-40 on what Orlando Weekly called “almost straight party lines.”

While Republicans in support of the measure say the goal is to ensure the integrity of women’s sports, Democrats who oppose it say the measure is discriminatory.

“I don’t care how many times you tell yourself this is about women’s sports and not LGBTQ rights or discrimination, because that is wrong,” Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat, said.

Rep. Kaylee Tuck, a Lake Placid Republican, meanwhile asserted that the measure is “simply asking that they play based on their biological gender,” meaning that trans women and girls would be allowed to participate in men’s and boys’ sports.

A similar bill is up for debate in the State Senate, but Orlando Weekly points out that SB 2012 includes language that would make the measure less stringent than that adopted by the House. 

State legislatures around the country have debated similar legislation in recent weeks. 

Meanwhile, the NCAA Board of Governors said last week that it “firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports.” The association said that when making determinations regarding championship host venues, policy dictates that “only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected.”

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