Metro Weekly

Texas to Ban Trans College Athletes from Women’s Sports

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continues the trend of Republican politicians railing against transgender participation.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott – Photo: Gage Skidmore

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has promised to bar transgender athletes from competing on collegiate sports teams that match their gender identity.

Speaking at the Young America’s Foundation Freedom Conference in Dallas last Saturday, Abbott promised that the Republican-led Texas Legislature would soon pass a law requiring athletes to compete based on their assigned sex at birth — mirroring a similar bill that passed in 2021 placing the same restrictions on athletes in K-12 schools in the state.

“This next session, we will pass a law prohibiting biological men to compete against women in college sports [sic],” Abbott said during a staged conversation with former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The crowd was comprised largely of twentysomething conservative political activists.

Abbott remarked that allowing transgender female athletes to compete against cisgender females is unfair, citing professional surfer Bethany Hamilton’s recent decision not to compete against transgender women after the World Surf League changed its policies to allow them to compete based on their gender identity.

“We’ve fought for the rights of women to be able to succeed in the world, only to have that now superseded by this ideology that men are going to be empowered to compete against women in things that should be protected by federal law, state law,” he said.

Two Republican lawmakers — Rep. Valoree Swanson (Spring) and Sen. Mayes Middleton (Galveston) — have filed bills to impose such a restriction. Both bills are likely to be passed on party-line votes in both chambers, just as the K-12 bill was — and because Abbott has indicated support for the bill, legislative leaders are likely to fast-track it.

Eighteen states, including Texas, have passed laws preventing transgender youth from participating on teams matching their gender identity.

Some of those laws also ban participation at the collegiate level.

The issue has been trumpeted by GOP lawmakers, who have sought to exploit recent developments in sport and Democrats’ general friendliness towards the LGBTQ community for political gain, knowing that polls show most Americans oppose allowing transgender females to compete in women’s sports (though they’ll happily allow trans males or cisgender women to compete in male-dominated sports, like football, if there’s no female equivalent available).

Last year, the NCAA updated its policy on transgender athletes to allow each individual sport’s governing body to determine its own criteria for eligibility.

If a sport does not have a governing body or existing policy, the sport’s international federation policy or International Olympic Committee guidelines will be followed.

The NCAA policy also requires transgender student-athletes seeking to compete in women’s sports to submit test results indicating their testosterone levels every six months to ensure that they are below certain “acceptable” levels. 

While the NCAA has indicated it has no plans to pass a categorical ban on transgender athletes, it remains unclear how the top collegiate athletic association will respond to efforts to restrict transgender participation in Texas.

The organization’s board of governors previously warned states and cities hoping to host key tournaments and competitions that their ability to host could be compromised if they pass laws viewed as hostile to the LGBTQ community, but the organization has not boycotted any states that have passed restrictions on transgender participation thus far.

Ricardo Martinez, the CEO of Equality Texas, slammed Abbott for seeking to “alienate trans people who already encounter so many obstacles” to acceptance in their lives.

“Sports are an important part of the lives of many young people. They teach young people about teamwork, persistence, and sportsmanship,” Martinez said in a statement. “This type of legislation would abandon trans athletes and leave them without a way to express themselves in sports.”

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