Time Runs Out for Texas Anti-Transgender Sports Ban Bill

by Wyatt Ronan

AUSTIN, TX — At the stroke of midnight on May 25, the deadline passed for the Texas House to vote on SB 29, legislation previously passed by the Senate to ban transgender youth from participating in sports. While SB 29 can not proceed in a standalone form, the Human Rights Campaign and LGBTQ advocates remain alert for attempts to revive this bill in other forms or through other means.

SB 29 was a discriminatory “solution” to a problem that didn’t exist and of which proponents of this bill could not provide examples. For the past 5 months, trans children all over Texas have been anxiously watching to learn if their government will allow them to play soccer, or run track, or shoot hoops with their school teams. Sports are a crucial element of childhood development, and every child should have an opportunity to participate. Trans inclusion in athletics has been happening successfully for years at every level of play - in sixteen states as well as at the collegiate and professional levels.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of champions for equality from transgender young people and their families to medical experts and local advocates, SB 29 — the anti-transgender sports ban bill — will not become law in Texas this year,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. “After debunking the misinformation and hearing testimony from affected transgender young people, the harm of this bill, even without its passage, became apparent to legislators. Texas made the right choice by rejecting any impending economic, legal, and reputational consequences that have always come along with anti-equality legislation. With no evidence that transgender young people are trying to game the system for a competitive advantage, not just in Texas but across the country, there is no reason to move this kind of legislation forward to target this vulnerable population. Transgender kids are kids and we should always let them play.

Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President

Bills like SB 29 demonstrate the petty and cruel ways that Texas officials use the lives of trans kids to score political points without regard to the actual human impact,” said Human Rights Campaign Texas State Director Rebecca Marques. Texas legislators introduced more than two dozen discriminatory anti-LGBTQ bills, more than in any other state this year. So for the third consecutive Session, the LGBTQ community and its allies were forced to spend countless hours and resources working to convince legislators that the LGTBQ community, including our transgender children, deserve equality. Passing discriminatory legislation is a time-consuming endeavor, and the Texas legislature certainly has better uses for its time, especially this year.

Rebecca Marques, HRC Texas State Director

Since 2017, when the legislature considered a bathroom bill targeting transgender people, the Human Rights Campaign has had full-time staff on the ground in Texas, working in close partnership with ally organizations like the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT), Texas Freedom Network, Lambda Legal, Equality Texas, and the ACLU of Texas.

In Texas, as in other states considering these bills, legislators across the country could not provide examples of trans sports 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. Further, the NCAA opposes efforts to limit the participation of transgender students.

In a further example of the baffling rationale behind the discriminatory bill, this bill would in practice, actually force transgender boys to play with cisgender girls - accomplishing the opposite of the proponents’ stated goals, in the same way that the bathroom bill would have forced transgender men to share restrooms with cisgender women.

The bill’s placement on Tuesday’s Major State calendar was a sign of far-right pressure to pass the bill despite the fact that discrimination against the transgender community does not have the support of the majority of voters, including Republicans. In a 10-state poll last Fall that included Texas, 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. The poll, conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group, also found that trans equality is popular, with at least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 states saying transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.

HRC works to advance equality both in the legislature and at the ballot box. In election season, HRC supports pro-LGBTQ candidates and works with lawmakers to expand their understanding of LGBTQ Texans. Data shows that LGBTQ voters have a consistently high turnout – and they know who stands with them, and who works to harm them.

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