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Texas bans transgender girls from female sports in schools

October 26, 2021

The southern US state is the latest to enact prohibiting transgender girls from participating in female sports at public schools. Rights groups vowed to fight the ban.

Texas has passed several right-wing bills this year, including laws placing new restrictions on voting and abortion
Texas has passed several right-wing bills this year, including laws placing new restrictions on voting and abortionImage: Bob DaemmrichZUMA Wire/imago images

Transgender girls will not be allowed to participate on sports teams at public schools in Texas, according to a new bill that was signed into law by Republican Governor Greg Abbott on Monday.

The bill was passed by state lawmakers on October 15 and is to go into effect from January 18.

What has been the reaction?

Supporters of the bill say it aims to protect fairness in school sports by eliminating what they see as an inherent advantage of female transgender athletes — those assigned the male sex at birth but who have since transitioned — on female teams.

But equal rights advocacy groups have decried the measure as discriminatory. The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ+ rights advocacy group, said it would continue to fight for the community. It previously said it would challenge similar legislation in courts.

Athlete Ally, another non-profit group, called the passing of the bill "heartbreaking."

The groups have maintained that the real purpose of this kind of laws was to energize hard-core social conservatives, and that there was little evidence that trans women or girls were dominating sports by virtue of the sex they were assigned at birth.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which governs US college sports, had said in April that it would only hold events in states that were "free of discrimination."

Texas joins other states

Several other states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee and West Virginia, have passed similar legislation in the recent years.

South Dakota's governor has signed an executive order supporting a sports ban. North Dakota's Republican governor, however, vetoed a similar bill passed by state lawmakers.

On June 1, the first day of the Pride month celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, Florida's governor banned transgender girls from competing on sports teams at schools.

Idaho was the first state to enact such a law banning transgender athletes from sports in 2020. However, a federal court has blocked enforcing the law, pending the outcome of a legal challenge against the measure.

This trend is reflected in the number of bills that have been enacted recently. At least 35 bills to exclude transgender youth from athletics have been introduced in 31 states this year, up from 29 in 2020 and two in 2019, according to a tally posted earlier this year by the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

rm/fb (Reuters, AP)