Texas Governor Signs Transgender Youth Sports Ban

By: - October 27, 2021 12:00 am

Demonstrators rally at the Texas Capitol to oppose legislation to prohibit transgender youth from participating on sports teams that don’t align with their gender at birth. Five months later, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill. Eric Gay/The Associated Press

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott this week became the latest governor to sign a bill to bar transgender youth from competing on high school sports team that don’t align with their biological gender at birth. 

The legislation, which failed to pass at least five times during the regular legislative session, advanced at a state Senate Health and Human Services Committee meeting earlier this month, where a 24-hour notice rule was suspended, according to The Texas Tribune. Abbott signed the bill Monday.

Lawmakers and supporters of the bills argued that allowing transgender girls to participate in sports threatens athletic opportunities for cisgender women and girls. LGBTQ advocates point out that barring transgender youth from playing sports can pose risks to their mental and physical health.

This year, governors in seven other states—Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Montana, Mississippi, Tennessee and West Virginia—have signed similar legislation. And lawmakers in more than half of the states introduced bills that would require proof of an athlete’s sex, meaning some girls could be forced to undergo physical exams, including of their genitals, before being allowed to play.

The Texas legislature has introduced over 40 bills on the matter, more than any other state. Governors in Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota vetoed legislation in their states. And in West Virginia, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction this summer stopping the law from being enforced.

LGBTQ advocacy and human rights organizations such as the Trevor Project and the Human Rights Campaign have issued statements condemning Abbott’s actions. 

“This is a dark and frightening day for thousands of families in Texas who fear for the safety and future of their transgender children,” Rebecca Marques, Human Rights Campaign Texas state director, said in a statement. “Transgender kids, just like any kid, simply want to play sports with their friends.”

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Aallyah Wright

Aallyah Wright reports on rural affairs and leads race and equity coverage for Stateline. Previously, Aallyah worked for Mississippi Today, a digital nonprofit newsroom covering K-12 education and government in the Mississippi Delta.