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Some Florida lawmakers eyeing repeal of transgender athlete ban in 2022

'I believe this legislation was born out of ignorance,' Sen. Gary Farmer says
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Posted at 5:18 PM, Oct 14, 2021

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — There’s a growing effort to repeal one of Florida’s most controversial new laws, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.

The policy prevents trans women from competing in public middle school to college-level women's sports. It uses the certificate issued at or near a person's time of birth to determine gender.

The law was once thought dead during the 2021 legislative session after the original bill failed to get through Senate committees. Supporters, however, resurrected it through an amendment attached to a larger policy on charter schools.

Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it into law June 1.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signs transgender athlete bill, June 2001
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the transgender athlete bill into law in June 2021.

"We believe in the state of Florida in protecting the fairness and integrity of women's athletics," DeSantis said during the signing press event.

A little more than four months later, State Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale, has filed SB 212, the "Let Kids Play Act" to remove the restriction.

Farmer called the ban "disgraceful."

"I believe this legislation was born out of ignorance," he said. "Most prejudice is born out of ignorance."

Passing the legislation will likely be a challenge. Republicans remain in control of the Legislature.

State Sen. Gary Farmer
State Sen. Gary Farmer holds a news conference to announce a bill to repeal the "Fairness in Women's Sports Act."

Farmer was hopeful pressure from the upcoming election and months of reflection would soften enough members of the GOP majority to give his idea some traction.

"Call me a little bit idealistic, but I'm counting on a level of conscience coming to some people," Farmer said. "It really passed by a hair."

Previous emotionally charged pleas from opponents earlier this year did little to stop final lawmaker approval.

State Rep. Kaylee Tuck, R-Sebring, sponsored the Act. She told us in April why the passage was so important to her.

State Rep. Kaylee Tuck
State Rep. Kaylee Tuck spoke earlier this year about why she sponsored the "Fairness in Women's Sports Act."

"We're trying to make sure that women can compete on a level playing field," Tuck said. "And make sure they don't become sideline spectators of their own sports."

Tuck had yet to comment on the repeal bill.

The repeal isn't all trans advocates are seeking in 2022. They're also supporting a bill allowing state IDs to offer a gender-neutral designation, a change 26 other states and Washington, D.C., have embraced.

Lawmakers will return to Tallahassee for their 60-day session in January.