Florida lawmakers passed a controversial transgender sports bill in an 11th-hour maneuver on Wednesday night.
Just moments before Pres. Biden, during a joint session of Congress, told “brave” transgender youth that he has their back, the Republican-majority Legislature in Florida revived and approved a bill that would ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports according to their gender.
The measure now heads to the desk of the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, who’s likely to sign it into law.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, a similar bill passed in the House earlier this, but failed to advance to the Senate.
Florida Rep. Andrew Learned asks a question during a legislative session, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. (Wilfredo Lee/)
However, the sponsor of the original bill, Rep. Kaylee Tuck, a Republican, amended the measure onto a charter school bill, which passed the House by a 79-37 vote. Just before 9 p.m., the Senate approved the measure by a 23-16 vote.
“This transphobic bill was resurrected via a fast-tracked amendment and passed both chambers today,” Rep. Anna V. Eskamani, a Democrat, tweeted Wednesday night.
During the emotional debate, Florida Sen. Vic Torres, made an impassioned plea asking fellow senators to “please kill this [bill].”
“We thought it was dead, but obviously some don’t care,” Torres, who has a trans granddaughter, “a beautiful child,” told his fellow lawmakers, as some can be seen wiping away tears.
How do you vote for an eleventh hour transphobic bill after hearing this powerful plea from Senator @VicTorres_FL who talks about his trans granddaughter?
Everyone who voted for this bill should be ashamed. #LetKidsPlay pic.twitter.com/X9qZOCfsSg
— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) April 29, 2021
According to The Associated Press, the latest iteration of the bill stripped some of the more controversial elements from a bill that had been approved by House lawmakers two weeks ago — such as provisions that would require trans athletes in high schools and colleges to have their genitalia examined.
The essence of the bill remains unchanged: it bans transgender girls and women to participate in school sports according to their true gender. Opponents say that the measure would only hurt transgender youth.
“Despite hearing the voices of trans kids and their families time and time again, extremists in the Legislature have made it their mission to make trans children pawns in their culture war,” Gina Duncan, director of transgender equality of Equality Florida, an LGBTQ rights advocacy group, said in a statement.
“The message that the bill sends is an ugly message of exclusion, telling trans kids that who they are is not OK and that they need to change who they are,” Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith said, according to AP.
Smith, a Democrat, is the first openly LGBTQ person elected to the Florida Legislature.
Sen. Keith Perry disagree. The Republican lawmaker called the measure a “pro-female, pro-woman bill.”
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