AUSTIN — The Texas House voted in favor of a bill Wednesday that requires college athletes at public institutions compete in teams of the same gender.
Senate Bill 15 was authored by state Sen. Mayes Middleton, R-Galveston, and sponsored in the House by state Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring. Swanson also led a bill last session to ban transgender youth from participating in sports that differ from their biological sex in grades K-12.
The Senate approved the bill in April.
“Senate Bill 15 codifies in Texas statute that when competing and sex-segregated sports athletes must compete in accordance with their biological sex,” Swanson said.
Swanson argued that the bill was necessary to protect women's sports as biological males have a significant advantage in athletic competitions over biological females.
While critics have said this would not be the case when a transgender woman is on hormone suppression therapies, Swanson cited European studies that found that even when using these medications, biological males still had an athletic advantage over biological females.
Swanson also pointed to wins by transgender athletes such as Lia Thomas, a transgender woman swimmer from Austin who became the first NCAA transgender national champion last year. Thomas competed as a male University of Pennsylvania swimmer for three years before transitioning her senior year and winning the national championship.
Democratic lawmakers attempted to amend the bill several times including measures to protect universities from excessive complaints and provide more clarity when Texas competes against teams in other states that may allow a transgender athlete to participate.
They also pointed out that no Texas public institution has an NCAA transgender competing athlete, accusing Republicans of legislating an issue that does not exist.
Each of these efforts failed and the bill ultimately passed 93-49.
“Texans in my neighborhood are saying we need to address issues that are important to us like gun violence, health care, education (and) property taxes … but instead, once again, we are wasting valuable time and resources on whatever boogie man hate creates today,” said state Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos, D-Richardson.
Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, an LGBTQ organization, said this bill and several other lawmakers have and continue to try to pass this legislative session are just another attempt to “remove trans people from public life.”
“Trans people belong in sports — just like they belong in the arts, in tech, and in political office. Trans people belong. Period,” Martinez said. “The vote today is a harsh reminder that some lawmakers are more dedicated to their own hatred than they are to our collective freedom.”
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