Florida passes ‘sick’ anti-trans bill despite desperate pleas

Anti-trans bill that would introduce transphobic sports ban stalls in Texas

Republicans in Florida have passed a ban on trans students from playing on women’s sports teams.

Republican leaders in the Florida Legislature passed the bill, SB 1028, on Wednesday (28 April). SB 1028 was approved by the House 79-37 in a mostly party-line vote, and then approved 23-16 in the Senate also along party lines.

It now goes to Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who is likely to sign it into law.

The ban on trans athletes in Florida came as a last-minute amendment to a bill on charter schools, having previously been rejected by lawmakers in the Senate who balked after the NCAA warned it would move championships out of states where trans athletes were not treated with “dignity and respect”.

The ban has been modified from its earlier form, which had included a clause that would have allowed schools to inspect the genitals of any female student suspected of being transgender. Elementary school students have also been dropped from the ban on trans athletes.

The bill, which restricts female sports team participation to those with female birth certificates, applies to high school and college sports sponsored by public schools.

Democrat opponents of the ban said that it targets vulnerable young trans people who just want to play sports.

“I ask you please, kill this. We don’t need this,” said Victor Torres, senator for Orlando, who has a trans grandchild.

Janet Cruz, senator for Tampa, asked fellow lawmakers: “Why do we inflict ourselves on people who are suffering?”

“This is unnecessary. This is stupid,” said Jason Pizzo, senator for North Miami Beach.

Bills have been filed in 25 states across the US, including Florida, which seek to ban trans women and girls from competing in school sports teams that match their gender, after the issue was raised at February’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando.

During its earlier hearing in the House debates, Democrat representative Anna V Eskamani Hammer condemned the anti-trans bill, calling it 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.