Advocates call on Gov. DeSantis to veto sports transgender bill


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News Services) – During some last-minute maneuvering, Florida lawmakers revived, then passed legislation prohibiting transgender women from competing in women’s only sports.

Advocates in the LGBTQ community are now calling for the Gov. DeSantis to veto the bill.

With little warning, the prohibition on trans women competing in women’s only sports was tagged on to a must pass charter schools bill and rushed through both chambers in a matter of hours Wednesday night. 

“It caught us totally off guard,” Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando said.

Smith has been one of the most vocal opponents of the legislation. He argues the bill is discriminatory on its face, despite the ban now only applying to high school and college athletics and the removal of language that would have allowed for challenging the biological sex of student athletes.

“Transgender kids who were playing in team sports in Florida across the state right now, will be expelled and humiliated in front of their peers. They did nothing wrong,” said Smith. “We need to support trans youth and love trans youth, not use them as political pawns.”

LGBTQ activists held a virtual press conference Thursday, calling for Gov. DeSantis to use his veto pen.

“Laws like these are intended for one thing. To legislate trans people out of existence and society. To expel us from public spaces, block our access to basic human dignities,” said Willow Leech with the Florida Coalition for Transgender Liberation.

The NCAA is providing additional pressure to the governor and has promised to boycott states that implement trans athlete bans.

“It’s up to the governor to figure out whether or not attacking trans youth is worth losing $75 million in economic activity, jobs, and tournaments from NCAA here in Florida,” said Smith.

Gov. DeSantis has so far been silent on the legislation. 

North Dakota’s Governor Doug Burgum vetoed a similar bill, although others in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee have been signed into law.

Even if Gov. DeSantis signs the bill into law, legal challenges are all but guaranteed as a similar law in Idaho has been put on hold by a federal court.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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