Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed the anti-trans sports bill into law. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty)
Florida has officially banned trans girls from playing competitive sports on the correct team in a devastating blow to the state’s LGBT+ community.
Republican governor Ron DeSantis signed SB1028 – dubbed “The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” – into law on Tuesday (1 June), the first day of Pride Month.
“I can tell you this, in Florida, girls are going to play girls’ sports and boys are going to play boys’ sports,” DeSantis said at a news conference shortly after he signed the bill.
“We’re going to do what’s right. We’ll stand up to corporations – they are not going to dictate the policies in this state,” he said.
“We will stand up to groups like the NCAA who think that they should be able to dictate the policies in different states, not here, not ever,” DeSantis added, alluding to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) suggestion that it would only host championships in states where trans athletes can participate.
DeSantis’ decision to sign the bill into law means Florida has become the seventh state to ban trans athletes from participating on the correct team this year so far.
Florida’s anti-trans sports bill puts ‘the safety and wellbeing’ of trans kids on the line
Shortly afterwards, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – one of the United States’ leading LGBT+ organisations, announced its intention to challenge Florida’s law in court.
“The Human Rights Campaign will always stand up to anti-equality forces on behalf of transgender kids, and that is exactly what we plan to do by legally challenging this ban on the participation of transgender girls and women in sports,” said HRC president Alphonso David.
He accused DeSantis and Florida lawmakers of “legislating based on a false, discriminatory premise that puts the safety and well-being of transgender children on the line”.
“In Florida, we are ensuring that there are legal consequences to pay for being on the wrong side of history.”
Florida state representative Anna Eskamani, who is expected to run for Florida governor in 2022, described the bill as a “bigoted, transphobic piece of legislation”.
In a statement, Eskamani said the bill targets “one of the most vulnerable groups of people in our state” and “excludes transgender people from public life, including participation in sports.”
“It’s shameful that our Governor and Florida’s Republican Party would attack a group of people who already experience constant discrimination, bullying and high rates of suicide,” Eskamani said.
“Transgender youth deserve our love and support, not cruel attacks because of who they are. The consequences for states that have passed anti-LGBTQ+ laws are clear – bigoted policies lead to major economic loss.
“Today Governor Ron DeSantis allowed ignorance to prevail and took our state backwards in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality. We won’t forget it.”
DeSantis’ decision to sign the bill into law was also condemned by The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention charity for LGBT+ people.
“On the first day of LGBTQ Pride Month – and after a year in which more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered attempting suicide – it is unconscionable that Florida politicians would go out of their way to target trans youth,” said Sam Brinton, Vice President of advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project.
“This group of young people desperately needs more support, not to be further marginalised and attacked by those in positions of power.
“These sports bans are as unfair and unnecessary as they are dangerous. When a trans young person is told they cannot play the sport they love solely because of who they are, it can be incredibly harmful to their mental health and sense of self, and contribute to increased risk for suicide.
“This Pride Month, and every month, we must send a strong message to transgender and nonbinary youth that they should be proud of who they are and deserve the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.”