Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill on Monday that makes it legal to ban transgender girls from participating in female team sports at public schools, joining a wave of similar measures emerging from Republican-controlled statehouses across the country. Seven other states have passed similar laws this year, part of a Republican-led national campaign since March 2020, when Idaho barred athletes who were assigned a male gender at birth from competing on sports teams against those assigned as female in public schools or colleges. Enforcement of the Idaho ban has been blocked by a federal court pending the outcome of a legal challenge against the measure.
Supporters of the bill say it is aimed at “protecting fairness in school sports” by eliminating what they see as “an inherent physical competitive advantage of transgender athletes” playing on female teams. Conversely, equal rights advocates denounce such restrictions as discriminatory, “hate”-based measures whose real purpose is to appease hard-core social conservatives, with little or no evidence that trans women or girls are dominating sports.
Other states whose legislatures have followed Idaho’s lead include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee, and West Virginia, while South Dakota’s governor acted by executive order. Some of those are likewise under court challenge. At least 35 bills to exclude transgender youth from athletics have been introduced in 31 states this year, up from 29 in 2020 and two in 2019, according to a tally earlier this year by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Disarm Trans Hate.
Texas is banning Trans youth from playing sports consistent with their gender identity.
Abbott's law arrives as the rate of suicide calls from Texas to a Transgender hotline reached 36% of all calls.
— Kenya ☮️ Voting Rights Now ☯️ (Commentary) (@LandseerNewfie) October 26, 2021
While Abbott made no public remarks on why he chose to sign the bill, but Rep. Valoree Swanson, a lead sponsor in the state House, has said it is “all about girls and protecting them” in the state’s University Interscholastic League. “We need a statewide level playing field.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, Texas is now the 10th state to enact such a ban.
‘Nationwide in 2021, 25 anti-LGBTQ bills having been enacted, including 13 specifically anti-transgender laws across 8 states,’ HRC said in a statement.
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) October 26, 2021
The transgender sports measure marks the latest in a slate of right-wing bills advanced by the GOP-dominated Texas legislature and the Republican governor this year, including laws placing new restrictions on voting and abortion while doing away with the need for a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
BREAKING: The Texas House just passed a cruel and unconstitutional bill, HB25, denying transgender youth the right to play sports.
Trans youth belong in sports.
Trans youth belong in Texas.
Trans youth belong everywhere.
— ACLU (@ACLU) October 15, 2021