Texas Senate Passes Anti-Transgender Sports Ban Bill

by Wyatt Ronan

Discriminatory bills based on false claims will harm trangender youth and distract legislators from priorities like pandemic recovery and electric grid reliability

AUSTIN, TX — Today, the Texas Senate passed the Senate Bill 29, legislation aimed at banning transgender youth from participating in sports. 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.

There are so far more than 240 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of those, more than 115 directly target transgender people and about half of those (more than 60 bills) would, like SB 29, ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.This week alone, the Texas Legislature moved a total of five anti-LGBTQ bills including SB 29. Human Rights Campaign Texas State Director Rebecca Marques issued the following statement in response to the passage of SB 29:

Session after session, those who support equality and reject discrimination must travel to the Texas Capitol to deliver the same message: Discrimination is bad for business, bad for Texans, bad for Texas. In 2017, far-right extremists lawmakers tried to pass the infamous anti-LGTBQ bathroom bill. We wasted a whole session and special session on that discriminatory piece of legislation. And this session, they’ve turned their sights on transgender youth with SB 29 despite the fact that they can give no examples of actual problems. This bill is opposed by educators, sports organizations and medical professionals. Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, and there is no reason any state would need a ban on transgender participation in sports at the K-12 level. Transgender kids are kids who just want to play, and they deserve that chance. Pacifying a far-right base by targeting the health, safety and welfare of transgender children is heartless and cruel, like SB 29.

Rebecca Marques, HRC Texas State Director

The NCAA opposes efforts to limit participation of transgender students

The NCAA Board of Governors released a public letter making it clear that it “firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports.” Moreover, “When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected.” This puts the 30 states with discriminatory, anti-trans legislation under consideration on notice that their actions will have repercussions for their states.

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

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.

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.

  • Idaho is the only state to have passed an anti-trans sports ban to date, and that law was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out against the Idaho bill and others like it and subsequently moved planned tournament games out of Idaho.
  • The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill could have cost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years.
  • During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.

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.

  • For example, Montana’s HB 112, the first anti-transgender sports bill to be passed through a legislative chamber in any state, was worked on by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

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