Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Banning Transgender Athletes from School Sports

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Lara Coiro / Staff Writer

On the first day of Pride Month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill (HB) 1475 into law on June 1. Entitled the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, the law bans transgender women from competing on women’s sports teams in public educational institutions. 

The bill also allows the institution to “resolve” questions regarding a student’s gender identity. This means transgender student athletes can be subjugated to medical examination at their school’s request, requiring a healthcare provider to verify the student’s biological sex.

Equal rights advocates from organizations such as the Trevor Project and Human Rights Campaign argue policies like these will cause more harm to transgender youth.

Duke University Law professor Doriana Coleman and Division 1’s first transgender cross-country athlete, Juniper Eastwood, wrote a letter to Florida lawmakers in opposition to HB 1475. They argued that the law is unconstitutional because of undue gender discrimination.

Transgender youth have rates of greater risk for mental health issues. In a 2020 national survey on LGBTQ youth mental health, the Trevor Project found that 60% of transgender and non-binary youth engaged in self harm and 40% had considered suicide. 

This study also confirmed transgender and non-binary students who had their pronouns respected by their families and loved ones attempted suicide at half the rate than those whose families did not. 

As sport teams represent an opportunity to become integrated into a community, HB 1475 further isolates transgender individuals.

The Florida legislature justified the passing of the bill in stating that it preserves fair opportunities for female student athletes, implying that transgender women have an unfair advantage over their cisgender teammates on the playing field. 

HB 1475 is another instance of legislation which seeks to limit transgender rights in the United States. The Human Rights Campaign has cited as of late April, more than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills were being considered in different state legislatures around the country. Out of those 250 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills, 66 of those sought to block transgender youth from competing in school sports. 

The following day, DeSantis vetoed all funding for LGBTQIA+ services, such as housing and mental programs, from the annual budget. $150,000 in funds dedicated to the Orlando United Assistance Center, which provides counseling services for Pulse shooting survivors, was also slashed. 

The law will go into effect on July 1.

Erica Friedman, associate director of the Pride Center at FIU, said students affected by the bill can make an appointment with staff at the center to discuss its implications. 

She also referred students affected to FIU’s Counseling and Psychological Services and organizations such as TransSOCIAL that advocate for the transgender community.

“At FIU, we support our transgender, nonbinary, and intersex Panthers. We are focused on helping our students succeed and navigate challenges. Our message to students is you are not alone. We understand this bill impacts our students and there are various resources through the Pride Center and at FIU that they can access,” said Friedman.

Friedman also recommended that students become involved in Trans Things, a virtual support group for transgender and nonbinary students at FIU organized by the Pride Center. Students can email the center at for more information.

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