Local Lawmakers, Jax LGBTQ Nonprofit React To Transgender Sports Ban

Apr 29, 2021

The director of policy at Jacksonville’s LGBTQ youth center said Thursday that Florida’s late-night push to ban transgender women from sports is “disgusting” and “discriminatory.” 

A bill banning trans women in sports appeared to have died in a Senate committee earlier this month. But in a late-night maneuver Wednesday, Senate Republicans passed the measure as an amendment to a bill focused on charter school reform. 

“I think it’s a harmful bill. It hurts transgender young people,” said JASMYN Policy Director Dan Marken. “And it's discriminatory. It singles out transgender women to treat them differently and deny them opportunities that they should have.”

Duval County State Senator Aubrey Gibson opposed the bill. “[The Republicans] couched it as protecting women, but really the underlying sentiment, I believe, is that there is not support for the trans community or trans individuals,” she said. “In a modern society, we need to modernize our thought processes, and let real information, the reality of an individual, drive how they get treated.”

Nassau County Republican Rep. Cord Byrd supported the bill. “I understand the emotion in the issue, but it is an issue of fairness, not just for the students who are transgender but those who are not.” Byrd said. “I have a daughter, and I played sports in high school, and I don’t want biological boys playing sports with girls.” 

Co-ed sports will still be permitted under the bill.

Similar bills have been proposed in about 30 states and signed into law in Georgia and Alabama. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign it. 

Merkan says he expects civil rights groups to challenge the law in court.

Contact Sydney Boles at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.