Human Rights Campaign Slams Passage of New Texas Anti-Transgender Sports Ban Bill Through Newly-Invented House Committee

by Wyatt Ronan

This marks the 4th session this year, including 3 special sessions, in which Texas legislators have tried to ban transgender youth from playing sports with their peers

The Texas House Select Committee on Constitutional Rights and Remedies, which was newly created by the Texas House Speaker in July expressly to address priority special session bills, voted 8-4 to advance TX HB 25, discriminatory legislation aimed at banning transgender youth from participating in sports alongside their peers. This comes after the Texas legislature failed to pass similar legislation during its regular session and its first two special sessions, for both of which this legislation was on the call. Today was the first time the bill was heard by the Speaker’s new select committee, after failing to advance out of the House Public Education Committee in both of the first two special sessions.

Texas transgender young people like 12-year old Adelyn and 11-year old Libby Gonzales and their families have spoken out against this dangerous legislation, telling their stories and speaking to the harms these bills would pose to them directly if enacted.

Ahead of the hearing, The Human Rights Campaign joined coalition partners including TENT, Equality Texas, ACLU of Texas, Texas Freedom Network, Lambda Legal, and others to rally against HB 25 and its companion bill in the Texas Senate, SB 3. Human Rights Campaign Texas State Director Rebecca Marques said:

“The Texas Legislature’s persistence in pursuing legislation that harms transgender youth reveals their perverse priorities. Rather than focus on fixing the fragile, failing electrical grid, or reversing the anti-abortion legislation that has brought international condemnation on the state, or committing to equitable redistricting, the Texas Legislature continues its myopic, dogged pursuit of making it painful to be a transgender young person in Texas. HRC will continue to speak out, show up, and fight to protect transgender youth.”

Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow testified in-person before the committee today in opposition to this discriminatory legislation:

“There simply is no actual problem posed by inclusive sports programs. Transgender girls, like all girls, have varying interest in sports; they have varying ability in sports; some girls are tall, some are short; some are fast, some are slow; some have hand-eye coordination, some have two left feet; some have the passion to practice, and others dread even physical education class. The argument that transgender girls will take over girls’ sports relies on harmful, sexist stereotypes reinforced by misinformation spread by opponents of equality who have no compunction about scoring political points at the expense of innocent transgender kids just trying to navigate their adolescence.”

Legislators across the country have failed to provide examples of issues in their states to attempt to justify these attacks on transgender youth, laying bare the reality that they are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact. Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident -- in Texas or anywhere else.

2021 has been a record-breaking year for the passage of anti-LGBTQ and specifically anti-transgender legislation, with 25 anti-LGBTQ bills having been enacted, including 13 specifically anti-transgender laws across 8 states. More than 280 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced across 33 states this session, including more than 130 specifically anti-transgender bills. Each of these marks has set a new record for anti-equality legislation being introduced and enacted in a single state legislative session since the Human Rights Campaign began tracking legislation.

Wide range of business and advocacy groups, athletes oppose anti-trans legislation

  • More than 150 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that has recently become law in Arkansas.
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.
  • Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states with anti-trans sports legislation

Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters

A PBS/NPR/Marist poll states that 67% of Americans, including 66% of Republicans, oppose the anti-transgender sports ban legislation proliferating across 30 states.

In a 10-swing-state poll, including Texas, conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group last fall:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
  • At least 87% of respondents across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care
  • When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.

Another more recent poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student-athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm

Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.

These bills are solutions in search of problems that are driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local legislators or Texans’ concerns

These bills come from the same forces that drove previous anti-equality fights by pushing copycat bills across state houses — hateful anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom (designated by Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group), and Eagle Forum among others.

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