On June 1, which LGBT activists — and President Joe Biden — celebrate as the first day of “Pride month,” Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) signed a law protecting fairness in women’s sports. He signed the bill in front of a group of female teenage athletes, including Selina Soule, one of the Connecticut female athletes who is suing to reverse unfair transgender rules that deprived them of athletic opportunities. He also vowed to stand for fairness in women’s sports, even if the NCAA takes punitive action against Florida.
“We believe, in the State of Florida, in protecting the fairness and the integrity of women’s athletics,” DeSantis declared at a press conference at Trinity Christian Academy on Tuesday morning. “I can tell you this: in Florida, girls are going to play girls’ sports and boys are going to play boys’ sports.”
“The bill that we’re doing today will ensure fairness for women athletes for years to come in the State of Florida,” the governor added. “It says that athletic teams or sports that are designated for females are open to females. We’re going to go based off biology, not based off ideology, when we’re doing sports.”
He also noted that S.B. 1028 will provide a way “to actually vindicate the rights of any women athletes who may be discriminated against” by the adoption of transgender policies.
DeSantis introduced Selina Soule, who spoke about her experience losing to biological males who identify as female.
“In 2017, Connecticut began allowing two male athletes who self-identify as girls to compete in girls’ sports. During all four years of high school, I was forced to compete against them, even though they were bigger, stronger, and faster than me, because they were male,” Soule recounted. “In just three years, these two athletes won 15 women’s championship titles and they set 17 new individual meet records, records which we girls had no hope of breaking.”
“Those two biological males would dominate the field, leaving us girls to compete for third place and beyond. No matter how hard we’d train, and how hard we pushed ourselves, they beat us time and time again. We elite female athletes don’t give up a normal high school experience just for participation trophies. We race to win,” she said.
“This isn’t about self-expression, this is about our right — a woman’s right — to win,” Soule declared.
“During my junior year, I was denied the chance to compete at the regional New England championships. I missed advancing to the next level of competition at the 55-meter dash by just two spots, two spots that were taken by biological males,” she recalled.
“It was frustrating, heartbreaking, and demoralizing to be sidelined in my own sport,” Soule said. She said she reviewed the bill DeSantis would sign. “All I can say, on behalf of all female athletes, is, ‘Thank you, governor.'”
After Soule’s speech, Gov. DeSantis explained that corporations and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) will not force the State of Florida to bend to the transgender agenda on sports. He noted the pressure campaigns that many activists have launched in states like South Dakota, where Gov. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) vetoed a bill protecting women’s sports because it went too far in the eyes of the NCAA.
“When this was going on, you heard different things being said about some of these corporations get all spun up. Some of these organizations say they’re not going to hold events if you do this,” DeSantis noted.
“Let me say very clearly, in Florida, we’re going to do what’s right,” the governor declared. “We’ll stand up to corporations. They are not going to dictate the policies in this state. We will stand up to groups like the NCAA who think that they should be able to dictate the policies in different states. Not here, not ever.”
“And so we won’t be cowed. We will stand strong,” DeSantis added. He declared that even if the price of defending fairness in women’s sports is “that we lose an event or two, I would choose to protect our girls every day of the week and twice on Sunday.”
By signing this bill, DeSantis has joined at least five states that have taken strides in defending women’s sports against the transgender agenda. The governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee signed laws protecting fairness in women’s sports, while Noem did issue an executive order with some protections (far fewer than the bill that South Dakota’s legislature passed).
In April, the NCAA Board of Governors warned that the NCAA will only allow colleges to host championships in “locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination.” The board made this warning after explicitly endorsing “a more inclusive path for transgender participation in college sports,” i.e. a path to allow biological males to compete in women’s sports and vice versa.
The NCAA argued that its approach “requires testosterone suppression treatment for transgender women to compete in women’s sports,” following the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) policies. Yet a study in The Journal of Medical Ethics concluded that the IOC’s policies allow biological males who identify as female to maintain a key advantage that constitutes “intolerable unfairness.” Even some suppression of testosterone does not erase a male’s advantages, which begin in the womb.
A study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism concluded that “even after 12 months of hormonal therapy,” a man who identifies as a woman and is taking cross-sex hormones “had an absolute advantage” over female athletes and “will still likely have performance benefits” over women.
DeSantis is right to take this stance, even if it proves somewhat costly. While most of the legislatures and governors standing up to the transgender agenda are Republicans, fairness in women’s sports should not be a partisan issue. It is heartening to see DeSantis not only take this stance, but show the backbone to oppose the NCAA.