Texas SB29: Targeting Transgender Children by Banning Them from Playing Sports

by Rebecca Marques

Because SB29 requires trans youth to play sports on the team consistent with their gender assigned at birth, it effectively excludes them from all sports activities, which in turn increases their isolation and makes off-limits the social, physical and emotional benefits of sports - benefits which are especially important as we emerge from a pandemic that has isolated youth from each other and sports is serving as a bridge back to normalcy.

SB 29 would enact into law the premise that transgender people simply do not exist – that’s what it means to say a person’s gender is “correctly stated as determined at the student’s birth.”

Existing Texas Policy

The University Interscholastic League, the governing body for sports and other extracurricular activities for public schools in Texas, already has a policy regarding whom may participate in sex-segregated sports. The current policy says that to the extent participation in sports is limited by gender, that “gender shall be determined based on a student’s birth certificate. In cases where a student’s birth certificate is unavailable, other similar government documents used for the purpose of identification may be substituted”. This policy effectively excludes transgender youth, whose birth certificate will likely reflect their sex assigned at birth and not the gender with which they identify. It was this discriminatory policy that forced a transgender man, Mack Beggs, whose birth certificate identified him as female despite the fact that he identified as and lived as a man, to compete in girl’s wrestling in Texas. Beggs won the 2017 girls’ state wrestling championship because the UIL rules forced him to compete as a girl.

Codifying UIL Policy Is Discriminatory

Some have posited that since SB 29, as amended in committee, codifies an existing discriminatory policy that it is not harmful or discriminatory. However, the opposite is true. Since the law does not change existing policy, its entire purpose is restate discrimination: that is, to put the state’s imprimatur on a discriminatory proposal. The UIL policy ignores and obfuscates the existence of transgender people, and should SB 29 pass it would enact into law the premise that transgender people simply do not exist: that’s what it means to say a person’s gender is “correctly stated as determined at the student’s birth.” The UIL’s policy is discriminatory enough - to pile on further with a formal piece of legislation, one that is less easily altered and one that serves to do nothing but amplify a discriminatory message - compounds that discrimination.

Questions and Answers on SB29 (as amended)

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