Florida Senate Shelves Transgender Sports Bill

A proposed bill to bar transgender athletes from female sports, dubbed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, appears to have been abandoned in the Florida state Senate.

The Florida House voted to pass its version of the transgender sports ban, House Bill 1475, on April 14. The Senate’s edition, SB 2012, was scheduled to be heard in a committee Tuesday, but the bill’s hearing was shelved.

The Senate’s bill departed from the House’s by allowing transgender athletes to participate in sports if their testosterone levels are below a certain level. The House’s version required students to play according to their sex, to be verified by a medical professional if gender disputes arose. Students could prove their sex with a DNA test, a testosterone test, or with medical professional examination.

Florida Senate budget chief Kelli Stargel, the proposal’s sponsor, said her attention is now focused on completing the state budget before the legislative session ends in less than two weeks.

“Right now, my primary focus as Appropriations Chair is our constitutional responsibility to pass a balanced budget, and in a time-limited environment, I don’t know that we will have sufficient time to revisit SB 2012 this session,” Stargel said.

“I believe Florida should protect the ability of girls and women to safely participate in athletics, and I think there is consensus among my colleagues surrounding that underlying policy objective,” Stargel said Tuesday.

The NCAA raised the stakes for Florida’s bill when it released a statement saying the organization could disqualify locations that don’t treat all students with “dignity and respect” from hosting future championships.

The bill could remain on the table if the committee’s chair, Kathleen Passidomo (R.,Naples), decides to call another meeting for the Senate Rules Committee to hear it before end of session.

Opponents of the transgender bill celebrated its potential demise in the Florida legislature. Florida state Senator Janet Cruz (D.,Tampa) tweeted, “Ding dong the witch is dead. Rip Transgender bill.”

Florida state Senator Shevrin Jones (D.,Miami Gardens) said he hoped FL SB2012 (21R) would be discarded Tuesday in the Senate committee.

Florida is one of at least 30 states to propose a transgender sports bill.

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