Texas has become the latest state to enact legislation restricting trans student athletes.

Earlier this week, Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a discriminatory bill that bans trans girls from female school sports, forcing them to play on teams that don't correspond with their gender identity. The ban applies to all teams that are "sponsored or authorized" by school districts or open-enrollment charter school and will take effect on January 18.

The University Interscholastic League in charge of athletic competitions in Texas' public schools will be tasked with enforcing the law, which is much stricter than the organization's current policy allowing high school athletes to compete on a team corresponding to their amended birth certificates, according to the Washington Post.

In a statement, GLAAD spokesperson Mary Emily O'Hara called the bill the "latest angle to attack LGBTQ rights," before pointing out that these latest restrictions come from the same groups behind anti-trans bathroom campaigns.

"The sports issue is the latest creative framing — it's a Trojan horse," O'Hara told the publication. "If you ask women athletes, the participation of trans women and girls is not an issue in women's sports." Instead, O'Hara said that more pressing issues include "pay disparity, sexual abuse and harassment, and not enough media coverage," as well as lack of funding.

O'Hara added, "Women's sports have real challenges, none of which have anything to do with transgender girls."

This new legislation follows similar Republican-led campaigns, starting with Idaho's 2020 law barring trans women from competing in women's sports in public schools or colleges. And while the implementation of the Idaho ban is currently being blocked by a federal court, other states including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee and West Virginia have enacted near-identical laws. Additionally, South Dakota's governor has enacted another ban via executive order. However, some are also currently facing legal challenges.

However, Trevor Project CEO and executive director Amit Paley wrote on Twitter that the advocacy group would be working to challenge the law. Paley also said in a statement that the Trevor Project would be providing round-the-clock support to trans youth affected by the legislation, especially since "transgender and nonbinary youth are already at higher risk for poor mental health and suicide because of bullying, discrimination, and rejection."

He added, "This misguided legislation will only make matters worse."

Photo via Getty / Drew Angerer

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