transgender rights
April 21, 2021

Florida's House passed a bill last week that would bar transgender athletes from participating in girls and women's scholastic sports. The legislation, modeled after a bill passed in Idaho, is one of dozens of similar efforts by GOP lawmakers in 30 states. But Florida's bill "goes even further by giving schools the power to conduct genital examinations," The Hill reports.

Under the legislation, a school or rival athlete could file a complaint if they suspect a competitor in a female sporting event was not assigned the female gender at birth, and the athlete would then have to prove she was born a "biological" girl. They could "prove their birth gender via a genetic test, a test of their testosterone levels, or an examination of their reproductive anatomy by a medical professional," the Tampa Bay Times explains. "The 'reproductive anatomy' language was a major point of controversy for House Democrats, who argued the provision amounted to the state legalizing 'genital inspections.'"

Supporters of the bill argue it protects female athletes from unfair competition. Detractors say that, apart from the intrusive anatomical inspections of minors, it harms an already marginalized group of kids and, at best, tries to tackle a nonexistent problem.

The Florida High School Athletic Association and the National Collegiate Athletic Association both have policies allowing transgender athletes to compete in sports, and the NCAA said last week that it will pull championships from states that limit transgender participation. "Florida is set to host more than 40 regional or national NCAA championship events between the next academic year and May of 2026," the Tampa Bay Times notes.

The House passed its version of the bill 77 to 40, mostly along party lines, but it may not get a hearing in the state Senate before the legislative session ends April 30. The Senate version of the bill allowed transgender athletes to compete if their testosterone levels were low enough, but its sponsor, Sen. Kelli Stargel (R), amended it Monday night to make it nearly identical to the House version — except it lets the Florida Board of Education decide how to settle disputes around a student's gender and sex. "Andy Tuck, the Board of Education's chair, is the father of the House sponsor of HB 1475, Rep. Kaylee Tuck (R)," the Tampa Bay Times adds. Peter Weber

June 12, 2020

The Trump's administration's Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule on Friday that will roll back health care protections for transgender people.

The rule, established along with the Affordable Care Act, prevents health care providers from denying transgender patients health care by banning discrimination on the basis of "gender identity." When HHS announced its plans to scrap this policy, advocacy groups and lawmakers alike began criticizing the move as damaging to a vulnerable group of Americans. The new policy will reportedly allow health care providers to further lean on religious exemptions.

As The New York Times' Michael Gold pointed out, the timing is particularly noteworthy, since the announcement comes "in the middle of Pride month, on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, during a pandemic.

An HHS official said the move "will eliminate mass confusion that was unleashed by the Obama-era decision to redefine sex to cover a wide array of gender identities," reports Axios. The nonprofit Human Rights Campaign quickly announced a legal challenge to the rule. Summer Meza

October 21, 2018

The Department of Health and Human Services is considering establishing under Title IX a legal definition of gender as a biological condition determined by a person's genitalia at birth, The New York Times reports.

Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive financial assistance from the federal government. The Times obtained a memo, written in the spring, that calls on several government agencies to adopt a single definition of gender "on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective, and administrable." In the memo, the department said the sex listed on a "person's birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person's sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence."

The Obama administration had loosened the legal concept of gender in federal programs, and if this legal definition proposed by the Trump administration is approved, an estimated 1.4 million Americans who identify as a gender other than the one they were born into may lose federal recognition.

Roger Severino, the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, would not answer questions from the Times about the memo. During the Obama administration, he was head of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, and was upset by the administration's expansion of sex to include gender identity, the Times reports. Catherine Garcia

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