The Texas legislature has passed a bill that would ban transgender athletes from playing on collegiate athletic teams that conform to their gender identity.
The ban will now be submitted to Texas Governor Greg Abbott (right) for signature. Abbott has had previously expressed support for the bill and it is expected to be signed into law.
The measure, SB15, would require transgender athletes to compete on the team corresponding to the gender assigned to them at birth in any inter-university athletic competition sponsored or authorized by a public college or university. IIf the law goes into effect, it would provide whistleblowers with protections for those who report college programs that break the law and allow people to file civil lawsuits against a college if they believe their program broke the law . Texas Tribune reported.
Lawmakers said the bill will not apply to intramural sports Texas Tribune reported. According to the outlet, it would allow women to compete on a men’s team for a sport that doesn’t have a women’s team.
The state Senate approved the final version of the bill by a vote of 19 to 12 on Friday after minor changes were made by the state House of Representatives.
The NCAA allowed transgender athletes to compete in varsity sports for over a decade, but switched to one approach for each individual sport in 2022. Debates about transgender athletes continue, especially given the numerous anti-transgender laws across the country.
Opponents of transgender athletes’ participation argue that transgender women have an unfair advantage over cisgender women due to biological differences.
But LGBTQ+ advocates, organizations and experts have debunked such claims, noting that the athletic ability of transgender athletes is just as diverse as that of cisgender athletes and that such legislation is discriminatory against transgender athletes. Tthese groups Also say that such legislation could open the door to humiliating treatment of all female athletes and girls who do not conform to culturally accepted norms of femininity.
LGBTQ+ advocates opposed the Texas bill throughout the legislature, voicing similar views on how harmful it is to ban transgender athletes from participating in sports teams that match their gender identity.
“Trans people belong in sports – just as they belong in art, in technology and in political office. This includes trans people. Period.”
– Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas
“SB 15 is aimed directly at transgender high school athletes and prevents them from having equal access to the same opportunities and benefits as cisgender high school athletes, although transgender athletes have been participating in high school sports with their cisgender peers without incident since the early 2000s,” Shelly Skeen, an attorney at Lambda Legal, said in one opinion last week.
“The purpose and effect of this law is to discriminate against and exclude transgender high school athletes,” she continued. “The exclusion of transgender athletes from athletic competition is detrimental to all collegiate athletes and the student body at large by depriving students of the full magnitude of the college experience.”
The legislation comes a month after the Biden administration suggested a rule That would outlaw blanket bans on transgender athletes participating in school sports teams that match their gender identity. The White House proposal drew criticism from some LGBTQ+ advocates, who pointed out that it would still allow schools that receive federal funding to adopt policies restricting transgender athletes from participating in sports.
SB15 is one of several bills targeting transgender people passed in Texas, including one that would make the state law largest in the country to ban gender-based grooming for transgender youth.
At least 20 states in the US have done so Restrictions on transgender athletes have been introduced. Nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills In the past year, states across the country have passed laws restricting access to gender-sensitive grooming, drag shows and use of gender-consistent bathrooms.
“Trans people belong in sports – just as they belong in art, in technology and in political office. This includes trans people. Period. “This bill is just one of several bills targeting trans-Texans in an attempt to remove them from public life,” Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez said in a statement opinion about the Texas bill earlier this month.