Florida today became the largest state in the US to ban transgender women and girls from participating in school female sports, claiming an unfair advantage to those born male.
Reuters reports the legislation is the result of a campaign in states nationwide this year that equal rights activists condemn as discriminatory.
Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law after it had been rushed through the state legislature.
“In Florida, girls are going to play girls sports and boys are going to play boys sports,” DeSantis said at a Christian academy in Jacksonville. “We’re going to make sure that that’s the reality.”
Supporters of the bill say it is needed to preserve fairness, asserting that women and girls would be at a disadvantage against transgender female athletes who were designated male at birth but have since transitioned.
The legislation passed over the objection of Democrats and civil rights advocates who call the banning of transgender girls and women from sports unnecessary and discriminatory.
The measure takes effect July 1. It says a transgender student athlete can’t participate without first showing a birth certificate saying she was assigned female at birth.
The law is likely to face multiple court challenges.
The law advances an underlying principle that biological differences between males and females make it unfair for athletes assigned male at birth to compete on teams for girls and women. The law would not bar transgender girls and women from playing on boys’ or men’s teams.
Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David said the new law would not only harm transgender girls. “All Floridians will have to face the consequences of this anti-transgender legislation – including economic harm, expensive taxpayer-funded legal battles, and a tarnished reputation.”