The issue of LGBT rights returned to the Fort Lauderdale City Commission Tuesday evening when a local trans woman addressed members of the dais who did not vote in favor of a resolution slamming anti-trans bills.
Brought forward by Commissioner Steve Glassman, the resolution was in response to HB 1475 and SB 2012, calling for athletes to play on teams according to their biological sex in the name of “equality.”
The April 20 resolution passed 3-1, with Vice Mayor Heather Moraitis voting no and Commissioner Robert McKinzie not present for the vote. However, during the discussion, he said he was against it.
“Trans women are women,” said Carvelle Estriplet, the owner of Carvelle Bikes, a recent appointee to the Wilton Manors Community Affairs Advisory Board, and a Black trans woman.
She spoke before the commission during the neighborhood presentation portion of the meeting.
“You have to understand, as a trans woman, we face [discrimination], we are demonized, we are constantly ridiculed. It’s so disgusting right now that the conservative movement is going after trans women. To create issues that do not exist. What is the purpose of that? There’s no purpose for that.”
She thanked Mayor Dean Trantalis, Commissioner Ben Sorensen and Glassman for their votes of support of the resolution. She then turned her attention to the rest of the commission.
“Commissioner McKinzie, I just want to inform you that Black trans lives matter, as well,” she said to the commissioner, who is Black. Then she turned to Moraitis saying, “It’s so hypocritical, vice mayor, that you champion yourself as a Christian, you champion yourself that you are for women’s rights. You champion yourself that you want to help the underdog, but you’re being hypocritical.”
Moraitis said that she voted against the resolution because it wasn’t fair to girls and women athletes to play against those who were born biologically male, stating that it was a matter of women’s rights. During Tuesday’s meeting, she presented a proclamation to the girls’ soccer team at Cardinal Gibbons High School.
“I do have to say I think you have a physical advantage over me, being born a biological female,” Moraitis said. “I have to look at Caitlyn Jenner, what she said this week. I have to look at people who also have experience and see what they say.”
Jenner, who recently announced her run for governor of California, made headlines when she said that transgender girls shouldn’t be allowed to play on girls’ sports teams. This went against previous statements she made, in particular, during a speech she made when she won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 2015 after coming out as trans.
Glassman questioned how she could say this when she plays golf on women’s tees.
Moraitis told Estriplet she appreciated her speaking and sharing her perspective, but also pressed the issue that she believes she is stronger than her.
“Do you want to stand next to me? Do you want to compare? Do you want to arm wrestle me?” she asked. “I do believe men are biologically stronger.”
Estriplet replied, “Are you calling me a man?”
Commissioners also noted that the NCAA has stood for transgender athletes, who are allowed to play on college teams. The organization has gone so far as to boycott states that don’t promote equality for transgender athletes.
“This year, 2021, we lost 17 transgender women, the majority of them were Black and brown,” Estriplet said. “Use your Christian heart. You preach that you’re a person of faith … There’s no place for hate. There’s no place for that.”