Legislators in Texas have voted to limit the sports participation options for transgender athletes at the collegiate level.
As reported by The Texas Tribune, the state's Republican-controlled Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would restrict which college sports teams transgender athletes can join.
Specifically, Senate Bill 15 requires athletes to join the college sports teams that align with their sex assigned at birth, regardless of their gender identity. According to Kate McGee of the Tribune, it also provides whistleblower protections for people who report violations at a university athletics program and allows people to file civil lawsuits against a college or university if they believe the institution has violated the law.
The legislation allows female athletes to participate on men’s sports teams if a school does not have a women’s team representing the same sport. The legislation would also prevent transgender athletes outside of Texas from participating in competitions that are hosted within the state.
The legislation expands on a 2021 law that prohibits K-12 public school students from playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity. The new bill now moves on to the Texas House, where a majority of state representatives have already expressed support for similar legislation. Governor Greg Abbott has likewise indicated support for the measure.
“We are watching the denial right now of one of the most basic truths out there, which is a refusal to acknowledge the biological difference between men and women,” said Senator Mayes Middleton, R-Galveston, on the Senate floor Tuesday, when the bill received preliminary approval. “We hope every woman in this great state has a fair opportunity at athletic excellence through achievement and this bill protects that opportunity.”
As reported by McGee , LGBTQ advocates say that argument is flawed and ignores that transgender students have varying athletic abilities that do not automatically guarantee an advantage. They argue the legislation discriminates against transgender students and further stigmatizes them.
UCLA's Williams Institute estimates that 19,800 Texans between the ages of 18 and 24 identify as trans, or approximately 0.71 percent of the country’s population in that age group, McGree reported.