Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act into law on June 1, 2021, according to a press release. On Jan. 6, it was reopened in federal court, and it is now at risk of being overturned.
This law is an important protection for female athletes and needs to remain in place to prevent anyone from having an unfair advantage.
This bill states that those who were born male, regardless of how they currently identify, are ineligible to play sports designated for women or girls. This applies to sports teams across all levels including high schools and universities.
There is a significant performance gap between men and women in sports, beginning at puberty, according to a 2021 study published in the National Library of Medicine. This gap can be anywhere from 10-50% depending on the sport.
Men, because of their testosterone levels, typically have denser muscle mass, or the ability to exert force quicker and more efficiently, a larger bone structure and more efficient heart and lung function. While it is impossible to say that this gives them an advantage in every single sport, there are very few where this is not the case.
The testosterone suppression undergone by many transgender women does little to affect these obvious advantages, as reported by this study.
“It is possible that trans women competing in sports may retain strength advantages over cisgender women, even after three years of hormone therapy,” said another 2021 study published in the National Library of Medicine.
Even PhD researcher Joanna Harper, who is a transgender woman herself, believes that those who are born biologically male should not be able to compete in women’s sports without first undergoing hormone therapy, as stated in a 2021 interview with NPR.
Sports are divided into many different categories, including age and weight, for the safety of the athletes and to ensure that everyone involved has a fair shot at winning. Dividing teams based on sex is no different.
“Women have fought for decades to have equal opportunities in athletics, and we have to prevent those opportunities from being eroded as is happening in other states,” DeSantis said.
While it is understandable that people are upset by this law, it needs to remain in place.
Discriminating against transgender people is not acceptable, but that isn’t what this bill is doing. This isn’t a push to exclude transgender people or make them feel othered, but rather a safeguard put in place to protect the safety and fairness of women’s sports.