Why People Are Calling Florida’s Trans Bill "State-Sanctioned Sexual Assault Against Children"

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Is Florida Trans Bill Allowing Gender Inspections For Young Athletes "State-Sanctioned Sexual Assault"?

Florida’s House of Representatives has passed a new anti-trans bill that bans transgender girls from participating in women’s sports in school and college.

It could also subject them to invasive genital inspections. 

What is the Florida Trans Bill, or Fairness in Women's Sports Act?

The HB 1475 bill, entitled Fairness in Women's Sports Act, passed the State House on April 14 with a 77-40 vote. All but one Democrat opposed the GOP-backed bill. 

Under the act, teenage girls and young women could be required to undergo physical examinations if their gender is in question. 

“A dispute regarding a student’s sex shall be resolved by the student’s school or institution by requesting that the student provide a health examination and consent form or other statement signed by the student’s personal health care provider which must verify the student’s biological sex,” the bill stated.

The act is part of a contentious national debate about the place of transgender women in sports. 

Republicans claim that preventing transgender women from competing in sports preserves equality, despite being unable to offer any examples of a transgender girl’s unfair advantage. 

Democrats, meanwhile, argue that this act will create another avenue for the bullying and marginalization of transgender women.

In an emotional speech on the House floor,  Rep. Michele Rayner slammed the conservative law and likened the intrusive medical examination to “state-sanctioned sexual assault against children.”

Florida’s anti-trans bill is based on false and unethical science 

Under the bill, several avenues for discrimination against transgender women and gender-nonconforming athletes have been created though no restrictions on transgender participation in men’s and boy’s sport have been made.

The act authorizes "routine sports physical examination" of the students' genitals, genetic makeup, and testosterone levels. 

Schools can require health examinations or documentation from a student's healthcare provider. These tests would not be mandated for every student, just for those whose gender identity is “disputed.”

RELATED: Why Trans Athletes Are Not A Threat To Women's Sports

However, the act does not outline a complaint process or define what exactly it means for a person’s gender to be disputed, leaving women and girls vulnerable to subjective definitions of what being female looks like. 

Is it state sanctioned sexual assault?

This could potentially leave female athletes vulnerable to archaic gender testing in which a healthcare professional would perform a genital examination, in this case potentially on a minor who is not even of the legal age of consent. 

By forbidding these athletes from competing without the test, the act also allows children, women, and their parents to be coerced into undergoing the potentially traumatic examination. 

The processes of genetic and testosterone testing are largely considered to be scientifically inaccurate. 

Conditions like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome can cause anyone with ovaries to have higher levels of testosterone in their systems, while anything from genetic recombination to androgen insensitivity can undermine a test’s ability to accurately confirm gender.

Resorting to genital inspections when other tests fail forces minors and young women to undergo invasive and potentially traumatic inspections just to compete in sports like their cisgender peers. 

Gender testing of this kind has been a source of debate for decades. 

World Medical Association, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and health, bioethics, medical, and human rights experts, among others, have sharply criticized the practice of gender testing in international sports. 

These tests have been found to be unscientific, unethical, and a human rights violation.

RELATED: 6 Life Lessons I Learned From My Son About Raising Happy, Healthy Transgender Children

Does the Fairness in Women's Sports Act put trans girls in danger?

Demanding that young women expose their genitals in order for their gender to be defined without their input is, arguably, no less terrifying in a doctor’s office than it would be in any other context.

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Gender expectations are already oppressive enough for all women without having another state-sanctioned means of control over women’s bodies. 

The bill also codifies the bullying of transgender students into law by creating an avenue for others to report them and subject them to these state-approved tests.  

Reporting someone for testing will likely rely on stereotypical and outdated gender norms that force all female athletes to behave or look a certain way or else risk being sent for these tests.

Already, 43% of transgender youths report being bullied on school property. Having another way to target these vulnerable minors will only increase this figure by defining their gender identity as something that needs to be disproved. 

Transgender and gender-nonconforming youths also report suicide ideation in high numbers, but those who report having their pronouns respected by all or most of the people in their lives attempted suicide at half the rate of those whose pronouns were disregarded.

It can be life-saving when others respect an individual's gender identity. Yet, Florida has still opted to strip minors of this validation. 

Rayner also pointed out that it would likely be Black women who would be subjected to these tests most often. 

Black trans women are 7 times more likely to be murdered than the general population, so creating a legally approved means for their bodies to be objectified, investigated, marginalized, and violated only opens these women to another kind of violence. 

As Rayner said to her fellow House members, “I know for a fact that if any member’s child was subjected to what this bill suggests you would be raising sand, you would hire the best attorney and you would fight this bill.”  

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her Twitter for more.