Whenever I want to bum myself out, I do a Google news search for “Florida.” Because if terrible things are happening in the country, I can always count on Florida to kick the awfulness up a notch.
For example, Gov. Ron DeSantis just signed an “anti-riot” bill into law. That must be good, right? Surely it’s a response to the reprehensible attack in Washington, D.C. by terrorists intent on overturning a lawful election, right?
Alas, not right. The bill was created to address the audacity of people protesting against the murder of Black people by the police and daring to declare that such murder not only shouldn’t happen but that it also should be punished when it does. The bill gives law enforcement more muscle to crack down on these protestors. That’s the real threat, folks: they aren’t called “social justice warriors” for nothing. We must protect law enforcement from protests against their unchecked abuse of power by increasing the power that law enforcement is abusing in the first place.
And then there’s Florida’s anti-trans athlete law, called “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” which includes the added dehumanizing feature of “genital checks” to the already harmful and discriminatory measure.
According to the Orlando Weekly, “Under the measure, students’ schools would have to resolve disputes ‘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.’”
In other words, student-athletes who are suspected to “actually” be boys will need a note from their doctor asserting that they have vaginas, I guess?
Also key is the word “disputes.” This indicates that there is a current problem. There isn’t. It also is a chilling prospect. That a young woman who stands accused of being biologically male would be subjected to a level of intrusion and suspicion that, regardless of the findings, she would likely never shake. It’s a policy rife with possibilities for abuse.
But let me back up a minute. First, I’d like to address the title of this bill. It’s about fairness in “women’s” sports. It targets, specifically, athletes who are suspected of not being female. It doesn’t target athletes who want to play for male teams who might be transgender boys or men. Why is that? Sexism and homophobia (not to mention complete ignorance about sex and gender generally).
In sports, men and boys are perceived to have the advantage over women and men and never the other way around. Men are the better athletes, full stop (though I know a certain U.S. women’s soccer team who might have something to say about that). So trans men and boys aren’t competitive threats because they don’t have an “unfair” advantage.
As transphobic as this country is, trans men and boys are also not seen as a threat in the same way that trans girls and women are when it comes to perceived moral abomination. In the eyes of these transphobic lawmakers, men who “become” women are committing the worst possible gender treachery because why would a man want to lose the status and power afforded to him? What could be worse than becoming a woman? Why would any man do that?
Meanwhile, women who “become” men are trading up. They get access to power and privilege that comes with being a man in this society. The anti-trans folks may not like trans men, but they at least think they know where they’re coming from.
This line of thinking, of course, leads directly into the claim that trans girls and women must have something very wrong with them. And they must have an underlying motive of wanting to gain access to places where they can possibly see naked cisgender women like locker rooms and restrooms. Because to the folks writing these anti-trans laws, most of whom are cisgender men, that is the only motivation that makes any sense to them. Thus, cisgender girls and women need to be protected from these deviants.
Note that this doesn’t speak well of cisgender heterosexual men. The fact that they cannot imagine any other reason why transgender women exist except to “disguise” themselves in order to prey upon cisgender women and girls is basically saying, “Because that’s what we would do in that situation!”
Mike Huckabee even said as much, stating that had he known he could just decide to be a girl one day and go into the girls’ locker room he totally would’ve.
But do go on about how it’s transgender women who are dangerous predators.
D’Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.