TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A 13-year-old transgender girl sued Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday over a new law that will prevent her from playing girls sports at public schools, arguing that the ban is discriminatory and will deprive her of opportunities.
The Broward County girl, identified as D.N. in the lawsuit, has played on girls soccer teams since she was 7, but will no longer be able to do so on school teams under the law that takes effect Thursday.
Participating in sports has given her leadership skills and provided her a social network and support system, according to the lawsuit filed on her behalf by the Human Rights Campaign in a federal court in Fort Lauderdale. The girl also planned to try out for a high school volleyball team.
“Depriving her of these opportunities will have a long-term impact on her future. It also will create a sense of shame and diminish her positive sense of self, which can have lifelong consequences,” the suit says. The new law “also sends a message to D.N.’s current and future teammates that there is something wrong with her.”
DeSantis signed the bill on June 1, the first day of Pride Month. The bill requires anyone participating in girls athletics to have an original birth certificate that states they are female.
“Ron DeSantis made a conscious choice to sign an anti-LGBTQ bill on the very first day that we are celebrating Pride,” said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “DeSantis decided to take that day to attack the community. It was not lost on us that he did that as political theater, but this bill that he signed has real-world negative implications for transgender people in Florida.”
DeSantis’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
When he signed the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” at Christian school surrounded by student athletes, DeSantis was asked why he was doing so on the first day of Pride Month.
“It’s not a message to anything other than saying we’re going to protect fairness in women’s sports. We believe that it’s important to have integrity in the competition and we think it’s important that they can compete in a level playing field,” DeSantis replied.
D.N. began taking hormone blockers to stop testosterone when she was 11 and began receiving estrogen this year, according to the lawsuit. It says because of the treatments, she has no competitive advantage because of her sex assigned at birth.
“If D.N. does not have the option to play girls’ sports in high school and college, she will not be able to play sports at all and will lose the benefits of being part of the team network that has supported her emotionally and psychologically,” the lawsuit said. “She may be isolated and face emotional and mental confusion and emotional distress during this critical period of her social and psychological development.”