- The Magazine
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has said he will sign a bill to prevent transgender youth from competing on teams that align with their gender identity.
“For five years, the University Interscholastic League in Texas has had a rule in place prohibiting boys from playing girls in girls’ sports,” Abbott said during an appearance in a Fox News “town hall” with Laura Ingraham and several other Republican governors. “But the Texas Legislature is working on a bill to codify that, which I will sign.”
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), passed the Senate on a party-line vote last month. Under the bill, athletes would be required to compete on sports teams matching the sex listed on their original birth certificates.
Ironically, it was that same UIL rule referenced by Perry that created controversy a few years ago when transgender student Mack Beggs was forced to compete in girls’ wrestling despite having started his transition, because the original sex listed on his birth certificate was “female.” Parents and student-athletes alike — ignorant of what the concept of transgender actually means — heckled Beggs at meets, arguing he had an unfair advantage over cisgender girls due to his use of hormones.
So, in essence, by imposing the ban, Abbott and supporters of the bill will be guaranteeing that transgender males who are transitioning, like Beggs was, may retain a competitive disadvantage over cisgender females — the exact opposite of the “fairness” they claim to be seeking for female athletes in their justifications for passing the bill.
Under current UIL rules, transgender athletes can only compete on teams that align with their gender identity if they obtain a court order to amend the gender marker on their birth certificate. The bill would eliminate that exemption by only accepting birth certificates where a student’s sex was entered “at or near the time” of their birth, or modified to “correct a clerical error,” according to the Denton Record-Chronicle.
However, the bill would allow cisgender females to compete on male teams if a corresponding team is not available to them — a provision that would allow females to play on a men’s football team, for example.
The Senate bill has since been referred to the Texas House Committee on Public Education, where it has stalled after failing to win the requisite number of votes to advance to the floor of the full House.
James Harrison, the deputy director of the UIL, testified before the Education Committee, telling lawmakers that the issue of transgender participation in sports is “not an issue in our state,” reports the Texas Tribune.
Marjan Linnell, a general pediatrician testifying on behalf of the Texas Pediatrics Society, told the committee that transgender females often don’t have as high levels of testosterone as might be assumed, because they often start medical treatments like puberty blockers before seeking to compete in sports based on their gender identity. LGBTQ advocates have noted that Texas lawmakers are pushing another bill to ban transgender youth from accessing such treatments, which would only increase the physiological advantage that trans females hold over cisgender females.
LGBTQ advocates also countered that it would only lead to harassment of cisgender women. According to the Tribune, Heather Gothard, a cisgender woman, was targeted by social media posts and emails insisting she was transgender and calling for her to be banned after winning the women’s division of a competitive race in Cleburne, Texas.
If the sports ban passes, opponents argue, the type of harassment and bullying experienced by Gothard will only be funneled onto teenage girls who are more muscular or fail to conform to traditional gender stereotypes when it comes to their behavior — potentially resulting in cisgender female athletes being forced to submit to medical examinations to “prove” their gender.
Similar bills or executive orders barring transgender female athletes from competing in women’s sports have been passed in six other states, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) expected to sign a similar ban into law in the coming days.
Some opponents have worried that passing the bill could provoke the NCAA to yank events from states that pass such bans, which conflict with the collegiate sports association’s own policies on participation by transgender athletes. The NCAA recently warned cites and states that they must “commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination” if they wish to be rewarded with the change to host various tournaments or championships.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!