The Texas Tribune offers its readers The Brief, a daily newsletter featuring important news from Texas. Recently, a bill banning transgender athletes from competing on college teams that match their gender identity was submitted to Governor Greg Abbott for consideration. The Senate has approved minor changes made by the House to Senate Bill 15, which has received support from Governor Abbott. Senators Jose Menendez and Sen. Mays Middleton clarified that SB 15 would only apply to intercollegiate sports between schools and more casual, often coeducational sports. This bill would not apply to intramural sports, which are games of the school. The vote was 19 to 12, and LGBTQ advocates have strongly opposed the bill.
Melodia Gutierrez, director of the Texas Human Rights Campaign, stated in a press release that SB 15 is another invasive measure mandated by the Texas legislature to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. The bill requires athletes to participate in college sports teams that match the gender assigned at birth regardless of gender identity. It provides whistleblower protection for those who report violations in the university’s athletic programs and allows people to file civil lawsuits against universities when they believe there has been a violation of the law. Women can join men’s sports teams if the school does not have a women’s team for the same sport.
The bill is one of several bills currently under consideration that could make a significant difference to the lives of gay and transgender Texans. LGBTQ advocates oppose the change, while it remains unclear what immediate impact this bill will have on Texas public universities. For more than a decade, the NCAA has allowed transgender women to participate in women’s sports if they have taken at least one year of testosterone-suppressing drugs to treat gender dysphoria. Transgender athletes who want to participate in college sports must meet the previous policy requirements set in 2010 until the new NCAA policy is fully phased in. Legal experts say the Texas bill may expose universities to Title IX lawsuits.
In 2021, the Biden administration announced that laws enacted more than 50 years ago to ban discrimination based on gender would apply to LGBTQ students. Last month, the government proposed an amendment to Title IX that would bar a blanket ban prohibiting transgender students from participating in sports teams according to their gender identity. The proposal has been met with mixed reviews from LGBTQ advocacy groups, who say it still allows for discrimination against trans students, and critics say it threatens women’s sports. The Republican governor has criticized the ministry’s proposed regulations, stating that it seeks to enforce compliance with uncertain, fluid, and wholly subjective standards based on highly politicized gender ideologies.