Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a new bill into law that bans transgender students who were born as biological males from playing on K-12 girls' sports teams in public schools. It's the latest effort among several states to protect fairness in girls' sports.
As CBN News reported, the new law, known as House Bill 25, requires that transgender girls – biological males who identify as girls – play on teams that align with the gender listed on their original birth certificate, not their current gender identity.
The law will go into effect on Jan. 18.
Texas joins eight other states that have passed similar measures in recent months, but the new law may face legal challenges.
The legislation, authored by Republican state Rep. Valoree Swanson, has been assailed by critics who represent transgender athletes. LGBTQ advocates have called the bill mean-spirited and discriminatory.
Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, said, "We are devastated at the passage of this bill."
"Our organization will also begin to shift focus to electing pro-equality lawmakers who understand our issues and prioritize representing the vast majority of Texans who firmly believe that discrimination against trans and LGB+ people is wrong," he added.
But supporters of the bill said it is needed to protect girls from athletes who might have an unfair advantage due to their male DNA which could make them bigger, faster, and stronger.
"House Bill 25 is one of the greatest victories for equality for girls since Title IX passed 50 years ago!" Swanson said in a statement. "I have fought every political and legislative obstacle for an entire year – session after session – to protect the 332,000 girls in UIL sports, and I am overjoyed that Governor Abbott has signed my bill into law!"
Texas already had a similar rule enforced by the University Interscholastic League, the state's governing body for public school sports, for the nearly 850,000 athletes who participate. But that rule makes exceptions if a birth certificate is later changed to reflect current gender identity. The new measure eliminates that exception.
UIL officials have said that checking participation eligibility is left up to schools and local school districts, and the agency does not track the number of transgender athletes.
Texas is among 31 states in the nation that have introduced at least 35 bills during this year's legislative session that would restrict transgender youth from access to girls' sports, according to Reuters.
The Texas Tribune reports in two of those states, Florida and West Virginia, legal fights have already begun.
LGBTQ advocates have said there's no evidence that trans women and girls have a hormonal advantage competing against cis women and girls in sports. But medical researchers disagree.
As CBN's Faithwire reported research published last December by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that – even after taking hormones for two years to suppress their testosterone levels – transgender females, who were born as biological males, retained a 12% advantage in running, a 10% advantage in push-ups, and a 6% advantage in sit-ups. The authors of the study even noted that those numbers could be an underestimation "because trans women will have a higher power output than cis women when performing an equivalent number of push-ups."
A Question of Fairness
On the question of fairness, just ask the four high school female athletes who were forced to compete against trans males in Connecticut.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit religious freedom law firm representing the girls in an ongoing lawsuit reported two male athletes who identify as female won 15 women's high school track championships that were once held by nine different girls in Connecticut.
As CBN News has previously reported, since 2017, transgender athletes have consistently deprived Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell, Alanna Smith, and Ashley Nicoletti of honors and opportunities to compete at elite levels.
Last month, ADF attorneys representing Soule filed a motion asking a federal district court to allow her to intervene to defend Florida's Fairness in Women's Sports Act. The law is currently under challenge in a lawsuit that could jeopardize the safety and athletic opportunities of female athletes by forcing them to compete against males who identify as female.
Soule is now a sophomore track-and-field athlete at Florida Atlantic University.
"If someone does not speak up for women, I fear that we could see the end of women's sports. There will be boys' sports and co-ed sports; but women's sports as we know it will be gone," Soule said. "I believe that ensuring an equal playing field for women to be champions in their own sport is a women's rights issue. But this isn't just about fair play and winning for me. I want to protect the fairness and safety of women's sports for female athletes all over Florida. I want to ensure that future generations of women have access to the same equal athletic opportunities that shaped me and my love of sports."