Efforts to strip away the rights of transgender athletes in Florida appear stalled.
Senate Bill 2012, which would ban transgender athletes from competing in girls' and women’s sports, is likely trapped in committee for the rest of the legislative session. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland), admitted on Tuesday time was running out.
“I don’t know that we will have sufficient time to revisit SB 2012 this session,” Stargel said in a prepared statement.
While Stargel, the chair of Senate Appropriations, and her colleagues shift their focus to passing a balanced budget, SB 2012 fades away in the Rules committee. Equality Florida was quick to declare victory while acknowledging trans activists must remain vigilant until the end of the session on April 30.
“With the temporary postponement of SB 2012 and the subsequent statements from Senator Stargel, it appears that the overwhelming opposition to the Trans Youth Sports Ban makes it unlikely to move forward,” said Gina Leigh Duncan, EqFL Director of Transgender Equality, in a press release. “We will continue monitoring to ensure that no other procedural moves can resurrect it. While the reversal of momentum on this bill is welcome news, the harm inflicted by lawmakers this session is unconscionable.”
Last week the House passed a similar bill, by a 77-40 margin. Democrats tried to stop it, protesting the bill’s stipulations that included a medical examination of athletes’ “reproductive anatomy.”
Representative Michele Rayner-Goolsby (D-St. Petersburg) spoke against the bill, citing the risk of bullying to vulnerable children. Rayner-Goolsby said violence and murder claim the lives of far too many Black trans women — who have a life expectancy of 34 years.
“Children are children. Transgender, cisgender. And they deserve to be loved, supported, and honored for who they are,” Rayner-Goolsby said on the House floor.
SB 2012 left out the controversial genitalia assessment and other stipulations such as DNA and testosterone testing. Stargel said the issue is not going away.
“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. “We want to get there in a manner that respects the inherent dignity of each person.”
While polls are showing greater acceptance nationwide for transgender rights, more than 30 state legislatures introduced anti-trans bills.
“Make no mistake, this is a nationally coordinated effort to feed red meat to a socially conservative base at the expense of our kids,” said Duncan. “We are grateful to the coalition of sports icons, major corporations, organizations, business leaders, classmates, parents, and trans kids who stood tall in the face of transphobia to oppose this legislation. This bigoted, damaging bill should never have seen the light of day and lawmakers should reflect on the harm they have caused vulnerable youth to further their political careers. To trans kids across Florida: you are loved. And we will continue to defend your right to thrive.”