Mar 24, 2021 - News
Florida trans community speaks out against youth sports bill
Illustration of a transgender symbol with a soccer ball, tennis ball, basketball, and baseball cycling through the circle in the middle.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Absolute fear — that's what Faith Muller, the founder of LGBTQ support organization PFLAG Riverview, sees on the faces of families and kids in the LGBTQ community when laws like House Bill 1475 are proposed, she told Axios.

The latest: The bill, which would ban transgender girls from participating in youth sports starting July 1, just passed through its education subcommittee and is headed to the floor for a vote.

What it means: Equality Florida's director of transgender equality, Gina Duncan, told Axios the bill is part of a nationally orchestrated attack on transgender youth with similar bills being proposed around the nation.

"This isn't about sports, it's another way to marginalize and demonize the transgender community."
— Gina Duncan

The other side: The bill's sponsor, Rep. Kaylee Tuck (R-Okeechobee) did not respond to Axios' request for comment.

  • Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland), who sponsored the bill's cross-file in the senate, pointed out to the Tampa Bay Times that the International Olympic Committee bans transgender women with high levels of testosterone from competing in women’s sports.

But neither lawmaker could give the Times an example of a transgender student-athlete unfairly impacting competition in Florida.

That's because there is no evidence of the problem, says Randy Bertrand, PFLAG Riverview member, Palm Coast resident and father of a transgender teenager.

  • He points out that since 2013, a total of 11 transgender students in all sports of all ages have been approved by the Florida High School Athletic Association to play on teams that match their gender identity even if it doesn’t match the sex on their birth certificate.

Plus: The bill could pose an even bigger problem for cisgender students, he says, since it may subject them to verify their biological sex through an anatomical exam, genetic or hormone testing.

What they're saying: Former Orange County House Representative Amy Mercado told Axios the bill reminded her of transgender daughter's struggle to pass physical education even before she came out.

"The fight then was that she didn’t want to be part of the team and change out (of her clothes). ... She would rather fail or take the class online than have to subject herself to bullying and safety concerns. What parent wants to hear that, ever?"
Amy Mercado

Cindi Miller, an Apollo Beach resident who just started a league for women golfers in Hillsborough County, knows trans women can be athletes. She is one.

  • In the 30 years she's been playing golf, Miller said her being a trans woman was never an issue whether she played with men or women.
"It’s more of a boogeyman premise. We’re so scared of what’s in the closet we don’t realize there’s nothing in the closet. When you turn the light on, unless they just refuse to open their eyes, you can clearly see there’s nothing to be scared of."
Cindi Miller

This story first appeared in the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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