Florida advances ‘sick’ bill that would let schools inspect teens’ genitals in the name of transphobia

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Florida lawmakers have advanced a bill that would not only ban trans athletes from school sports but would also require schools to perform an “examination” to verify a student’s genitals in some cases.

The Florida House of Representatives passed HB 1475 on Wednesday (14 April) by a vote of 77-40, with one Democrat in favour of the bill. No Republicans voted against it, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

HB 1475 would issue a blanket ban to prevent transgender athletes from playing on girls’ and women’s school sports teams “sponsored by a public, primary or secondary school” or “a public postsecondary institution”. But the Tampa Bay Times reported trans athletes would still be allowed to compete in boys’ and men’s sports.

A crucial aspect of the bill is that it would allow a school or competitor to lodge a complaint about a student-athlete competing in girls’ and women’s sports. To “resolve” these “disputes”, the student’s school or institution would have to confirm the student’s “biological sex” through a “health examination and consent form… signed by the student’s personal healthcare provider”.

The healthcare provider would have to “verify the student’s biological sex” by inspecting their “reproductive anatomy”, “genetic makeup” or the student’s “normal endogenously produced testosterone levels”.

However, it’s unclear how exactly the complaint process would work as the bill does not go into specifics.

HB 1475 now moves to the Florida Senate. If the bill is passed in the state’s Senate, it would go to Republican governor Ron Desantis.

Democrat representative Anna V Eskamani Hammer condemned HB 1475 during the House debates, calling the bill a “sick political game”. She said: “As a woman, I, for one, will not be used as a political pawn for some sick political game that pits me against my sisters, and I humbly ask that all women in this chamber stand up and demand that exclusion not be done in our name.

“No one should be treated differently because of who they are and that is especially true for kids. As a woman of colour, I know what it’s like to feel different.”

Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel for the ACLU of Florida, said in a statement that the bill will reduce “trans students to political pawns”. She said the House members who passed the “hateful measure” are “compromising the health, social and emotional development, and safety of trans students”.

“If passed into law, this bill would alienate trans students, embolden discriminatory behaviours from staff and other students and make for hostile school environments,” Gross said. “It perpetuates harmful myths about transgender people and reduces trans students to political pawns.”

But Dana Trabulsy, a Republican representative from Fort Pierce who voted for HB 1475, told the Tampa Bay Times the bill is “not about exclusion” or discrimination. She argued it’s “about a biological and scientific difference between men and women”.