It looks like Florida will be the next state to place restrictions on transgender people.
Bills banning trans girls and women from competing in school sports advanced in both the Florida Senate and House of Representatives last week. In a party-line vote, the Senate’s Health Policy Committee passed the “Promoting Equality of Athletic Opportunity Act” requiring “certain athletic teams or sports sponsored by certain educational institutions be designated on the basis of students' biological sex” and prohibit “athletic teams or sports designated for female students from being open to male students.”
Adding insult to injury, Sen. Dennis Baxley compared trans people to automobiles.
“I have the greatest empathy for anybody that has such dysphoria,” said Baxley, Republican from Ocala. “I talk to my psychiatrist son all the time about this. What can we do to help people get peace with who they are and who other people are? … But you can’t make the facts move for someone. I can stand out here in the garage all day and convince myself that I’m an automobile, but it doesn’t make me an automobile and at the end of the day, it gives me a very confused life.”
Senator Shevrin Jones immediately responded to Baxley, acknowledging the comments were offensive to trans women and men.
“We have to have a sense of decorum when it comes to respecting these individuals because they are already under a great deal of scrutiny and it's not fair that we as leaders of this state do this,” said Jones. “Yes we can have our differences but there are 21 million people in the state of Florida and we should respect all 21 million people.”
SB 2012 moves on to the Rules Committee where the Republicans hold another advantage. A companion bill in the House moved out of the Secondary Education and Career Development subcommittee and is on the agenda for the Education & Employment Committee. With Democrats badly outnumbered in Tallahassee there seems to be little hope for transgender Floridians.
“The trans sports ban is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s targeting a young population of people who are already the targets of harassment, discrimination, and bullying at exponential rates. These are adults bullying children who just want to play with their friends,” stated Chris Mosier, a trans man, triathlete and six-time member of Team USA.
Elsewhere, Arkansas became the first state to ban health care for trans youth.
“Your Hate will not be final. Love will always win in the end!” tweeted Dwyane Wade, the former Miami Heat all-star basketball player and father of a transgender teenage girl.
In a telephone town hall last week, U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch called the recent string of legislation targeting transgender and gender non-binary Americans cruel.
“I don’t think we should punish a person for acknowledging their true gender identity … it seems particularly cruel,” said Deutch. “We should not punish people simply for trying to live their truest lives especially since it doesn’t harm others.”
For last week’s Transgender Day of Visibility, President Joe Biden offered his administration’s support.
“Transgender rights are human rights — and I’m calling on every American to join me in uplifting the worth and dignity of transgender Americans,” Biden tweeted. “Together, we can stamp out discrimination and deliver on our nation’s promise of freedom and equality for all.”
However, if Florida follows Arkansas, Mississippi and other states that are considering transgender bans, some in the trans community are proposing to fight back.
“We need a ‘trans day of rage’ that lets us be free to let out our collective frustration at being reduced by this system to either being commodified products and brands or to be voiceless consumers of meaningless streams of content while we desperately fight to survive,” tweeted Chelsea E. Manning, a trans femme network security expert.