Florida governor Ron DeSantis is about to sign a bill that until recently mandated “genital exams” for trans and cisgender student athletes.

In a Thursday town hall hosted by Fox News host Laura Ingraham, DeSantis confirmed plans to sign legislation preventing transgender girls from playing on school sports teams in accordance with their gender identity. “Oh, yeah,” the first-term governor said when asked by a member of the crowd if he would approve the bill, according to the Fox affiliate WOFL. “We’re going to protect our girls.”

DeSantis, who has been tipped as a potential 2024 running mate for former President Donald Trump after his 2020 defeat, went on to say that the issue was a personal one for him as a parent.

“I have a 4-year-old daughter and a one-year-old daughter,” he said. “They’re very athletic. We want to have opportunities for our girls. They deserve an even playing field. And that’s what we’re doing: what Mississippi did, what Florida did, what other states are going to do. So I look forward to being able to sign that into law.”

Of the more than two dozen states to weigh proposals to limit participation of trans students in athletics this year, Florida’s legislation has been among the most controversial. An earlier version of the bill DeSantis plans to sign would have required student athletes to undergo exams to determine their “biological sex” in cases — including genetic testing — where their gender is disputed.

Originally known as House Bill 1475, the legislation was thought to be dead after it was shelved by a Senate committee in April. The bill’s sponsor, State Senator Kelli Stargel (R-22nd District), worried there wouldn’t be enough time to build support for the effort with legislative session wrapping for the year on Friday.

“In a time-limited environment, I don’t know that we will have sufficient time to revisit SB 2012 this session,” she said in comments cited by the Orlando Sentinel, referring to HB 1475’s companion bill in the Senate.

But HB 1475 was resurrected last week as an amendment to an entirely unrelated piece of legislation: SB 1028, a charter school bill. The version attached to SB 1028 took out some of the most egregious aspects of the previous measure — namely, the requirement to submit to medical examinations — but would nonetheless require female student athletes to compete on teams in alignment with the sex listed on their birth certificate “at or near the time of the student’s birth.”

Despite criticism from Democratic State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-49th District) that the 11th hour maneuver represented a “late-night back room deal,” SB 1028 was swiftly pushed through the Florida Legislature. It passed 79 to 37 in the State House and 23 to 16 in the Senate, both of which are controlled by Republicans.

The legislation has been widely condemned by civil rights advocacy groups and members of the LGBTQ+ community. In a statement to press, Equality Florida public policy director Jon Harris Maurer noted that the enactment of SB 1028 would represent the state’s first anti-equality bill signed into law in 23 years, as well as “its most directed attack to date on the transgender community.”

“The whole process has been manipulated to rush forward this bill,” he said.

Maurer added that Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) and NCAA have both had policies in place for “nearly a decade” that allow trans female athletes to be affirmed in their gender identities on the field. According to its handbook, all students are permitted to participate “irrespective of the gender listed on a student’s birth certificate and/or records.”



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