FL Rep says only people who are born female based on medical definition may compete in girls-only sports

By: - February 12, 2021 2:12 pm

March for Our Lives demonstrators in 2018 hold signs saying “Trans Bathrooms Never Killed Anyone” sign. Credit: Ted Eytan

Following a presidential executive order that reignited public controversy about transgender people, Florida Rep. Anthony Sabatini announced Thursday he will again try to criminalize gender-altering surgery and medical treatments performed on minors who want it, even when their parents approve.

His effort to do so in 2020 gained no traction.

This year, Sabatini, Republican from Lake County, said he also wants to specify in state law that only people who are born female based on a medical definition may compete in girls-only sports, he announced on Twitter.

“Both women’s sports and our children must be protected from radical social experimentation,” Sabatini tweeted.

Critics of Sabatini’s bill last year called it the “most offensive and direct attack” on gay rights of the 2020 legislative session. They said it is neither radical nor experimental for a licensed doctor to render safe medical care sought by a minor.

“Transgender youth are some of the most at-risk in our community. It is outrageous that conservative legislators would threaten their health and safety,” Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s director for transgender equality, told the Phoenix then.

President Joe Biden’s executive order of Jan. 20 reflects a Supreme Court ruling issued on June 15 declaring that laws prohibiting sex discrimination cover “discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.”

“It is the policy of my Administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and to fully enforce Title VII and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation,” the executive order says, in part.

Critics question if the order may un-level the playing fields of women’s sports protected under federal Title IX laws by allowing gender-reassigned females formerly considered male to compete with athletes who have always been considered females.

“Should biological boys be allowed to compete against girls in the name of inclusion? People across the political spectrum have agreed: they should not,” says Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which describes itself as a research and education organization that promotes issues “from a biblical worldview.”

On the group’s website, Perkins describes President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as “people who will do anything to tear down the walls of science, morality, and human history if they have the chance.”

Sabatini raised his state profile last year when he filed numerous failed lawsuits in Florida attempting to strike down local face-mask mandates in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, calling elected officials who approved the mandates “mask nazis” and “local government mafia.” None succeeded, and he drew criticism from a circuit judge who said the series of filings border on being frivolous lawsuits.

Two Florida Democratic lawmakers in December called for his resignation after he tweeted “Kyle Rittenhouse for Congress,” referring to an Illinois teenager charged with fatally shooting two people and wounding a third in August during civil unrest in Kenosha, Wisc., after Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot in the back seven times by police.

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Laura Cassels
Laura Cassels

Laura Cassels is a reporter, former statehouse bureau chief, and former city editor. She is a classical pianist, a Florida State University graduate and proud alum of the Florida Flambeau, an independent college newspaper.