Metro Weekly

White House calls Texas bill restricting transgender athletes’ ability to compete “hateful”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott poised to sign measure barring transgender athletes from competing on teams matching their gender identity.

white house, texas, trans, transgender, athlete
Demonstrators at a rally outside the Texas State Capitol on April 28, 2021. – Photo: Equality Texas.

As Gov. Greg Abbott (R) stands poised to sign a bill prohibiting transgender athletes from competing on sports teams that align with their gender identity into law, the White House has denounced the measure as “hateful.”

Abbott, who faces a primary challenge from businessman Don Huffines, a former state senator who has been critical of the governor’s commitment toward social conservatives within the GOP, has relentlessly pushed for the bill, prioritizing it not only during the regular legislative session, but during three separate “special sessions” that Abbott called in order to push through conservative policy priorities.

There is little doubt that Abbott will sign the bill into law once it reaches his desk, having recently commended lawmakers for passing the bill, claiming it will “protect the integrity of Texas high school sports,” reports The Dallas Morning News.

The bill had previously passed the Senate four times, but stalled in the more controversy-averse House of Representatives during the regular session and the first two special sessions.

But the Biden administration has panned Texas lawmakers for passing the bill, which LGBTQ advocates and allies believe is discriminatory.

“This hateful bill in Texas is just the latest example of Republican state lawmakers using legislation to target transgender kids —  whom the president believes are some of the bravest American — in order to score political points,” White House spokesman Ike Hajinazarian told the News. “These anti-transgender bills are nothing more than bullying disguised as legislation and undermine our nation’s core values.”

When asked about whether the Biden administration would challenge the Texas law, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki deferred to the U.S. Department of Justice, but said that President Biden holds the view that “transgender rights are human rights, whether for adults or kids.”

The U.S. Department of Education previously announced in June that, going forward, it would interpret Title IX, which bars federal funding of schools that discriminate on the basis of sex, as applicable to situations in which LGBTQ students find themselves discriminated against or denied opportunities based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Additionally, advocates have not been shy about mounting legal challenges to similar laws. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s top LGBTQ organization, recently sued the state of Florida over its recently passed transgender sports ban, and has threatened to challenge similar laws in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union, in conjunction with Lambda Legal, has challenged a similar transgender sports ban in West Virginia, which a federal judge has blocked from taking effect, and has, in conjunction with the ACLU of Idaho and Legal Voice, sued to overturn a third transgender sports ban in Idaho, which has also been blocked by the courts.

See also: Texas agency removes website with LGBTQ suicide hotline number after governor’s primary opponent complains

Texas State Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood), a founding member and secretary of the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus, called the ban “a mean-spirited attack on vulnerable children” that turns them into “casualties in a culture war.”

“There are no documented incidents in Texas of a transgender girl taking an athletic opportunity away from a cisgender girl, but the damage done to the mental health of our transgender students is well-documented,” Zwiener said.

Biden has previously called on Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination against Americans based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and would supersede laws like the sports ban that Abbott is expected to sign into law.

Hajinazarian told the News that the Biden administration “will keep fighting for the full measure of equality, dignity and respect that all LGBTQI+ Americans deserve” by advocating passage of the act and would be “engaging stakeholders in Texas and other states in the coming days and weeks to build a path forward together toward true LGBTQI+ equality.”

See also:

New Jersey man allegedly shot stepfather to death over presence of gay guest in their “house of God”

Republican members of Congress criticize Dr. Rachel Levine after she becomes first transgender four-star officer

Raleigh, Wake County become latest in slew of North Carolina localities passing pro-LGBTQ ordinances

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