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LGBTQ Nation: Texas expands trans athlete ban to college sports


On Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed a new law banning trans athletes from competing in public college and university sports in the state.

The ban takes effect on September 1.

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“Women’s sports are being threatened,” Abbott said at a public signing ceremony for the Save Women’s Sports Act.

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“The legacy of women’s sports will be safeguarded for generations to come.”

The legislation was authored by Republican State Sen. Mayes Middleton (R) of Galveston.

Under the new law, Texas public colleges and universities are prohibited from allowing athletes to participate in intercollegiate competitions against students assigned a different biological sex at birth.

Texas law currently bans K-12 schools in the state from allowing trans youth to compete in school sports under a law passed in 2021.

Unlike the recent ban on gender-affirming care for trans minors that Abbott signed in private, the governor made a show of adding his signature to the trans athlete ban. He was flanked by cisgender female athletes, including two from the University of Texas and a third from Midwestern State University.

Calls from the Dallas Morning News to the two schools asking if the women represented the institutions or themselves went unreturned.

Abbott has now signed two anti-trans laws during Pride Month.

“This discriminatory law does nothing to help women’s sports and could put all college sports in Texas at risk for athletes, fans, and businesses by conflicting with NCAA Title IX rules,” said Ash Hall, Policy & Advocacy Strategist at the ACLU of Texas.

The law states a person’s biological sex will be determined by what was recorded on the athlete’s birth certificate “at or near” the time of birth. Modifications to a birth certificate would only be recognized if a change was made to correct “scrivener or clerical error.”

Like other recently-passed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, the law empowers Texas residents to bring civil actions against targets of the bill, creating a citizen-enforcement mechanism that can be exploited by far-right organizations pursuing discriminatory outcomes in the state.

In March, the Austin American-Statesman reported there were no openly transgender athletes competing at any of the state’s four-year universities involved in NCAA-sanctioned sports.

Thirteen schools, including the University of Texas and Texas State University, said they weren’t aware of ever having had a transgender athlete compete in their programs.

“This is an answer to a problem that doesn’t exist,” said Andrea Segovia, senior field and policy adviser for the Transgender Education Network of Texas. “What are the priorities of the state is always my question.”

Lia Thomas, the trans woman swimmer who competed for the University of Pennsylvania last year, was a frequent target of far-right attacks on trans athlete participation. Thomas is a Texas native and graduated from Westlake High School in Austin.

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