Texas Senate bill restricting transgender student sports participation in House committee casts doubt on its fate

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A bill that would prevent transgender children in Texas from joining school sports teams that match their gender identities failed to come out of a House committee on Tuesday, signaling potential problems for one of many anti-LGBTQ bills in the Legislature.

The Senate has brought forward a handful of bills that LGBTQ advocates say threaten the rights and mental health of transgender children in Texas, including restricting their access to school sports and medical care. Senate Bill 29, the Sports Bill, is the first Senate anti-trans bill to win a committee vote in the lower house.

House legislation banning sex confirmation health care for children, signed by 45 Republicans, was passed by the lower house public health committee last week, but has yet to hit bottom. the entire Chamber. Senate-approved legislation qualifying the treatment as child abuse is expected to go to the same committee, made up of six Republicans and five Democrats.

When members of the House public education committee – made up of six Democrats and seven Republicans – passed the sports bill SB 29 on Tuesday, it failed to progress in a 5-6 vote. gone.

Opponents of the legislation applauded the vote.

SEE ALSO: Texas GOP files ban on transgender women, restricting them to female sports

“We thank the members of the House Public Education Committee for their votes today against SB 29,” said Zeph Capo, president of the American Federation of Texas Teachers. “We did the right thing today for all the kids in Texas by standing up for trans kids.”

Jamey Harrison, deputy director of the College Interschool League, told the House Public Education Committee that the bill codifies current UIL rules, although there is one key distinction. UIL requires students in K-12 schools to compete on the team that matches the gender indicated on their birth certificate. SB 29 adds that it must be the sex indicated at or around the birth. The change targets transgender Texans, who can change the sex listed on their birth certificate.

Supporters of the bill have said there is a need to protect women’s sport, arguing that higher levels of testosterone could give transgender women an advantage over cisgender athletes and could cause safety concerns.

But Harrison testified that this was already “not a problem in our state” under current UIL rules.

Marjan Linnell, a general pediatrician testifying on behalf of the Texas Pediatrics Society, told the committee that transgender women often do not have high testosterone levels due to puberty suppression and hormone treatments – drugs that could be prohibited under other anti-LGBTQ laws. across the Capitol. Linnell also pointed out that there are big gaps in physical abilities among cisgender women and men.

Amalia Allen, a Texas student-athlete, said it was “derogatory” to be told by lawmakers that she was inherently less capable than male athletes because of her gender.

“People are very concerned about me these days,” she said. “I would like to allay this concern and respectfully decline this protection.”

LGBTQ advocates have also said the bill could actually threaten cisgender female athletes, fearing that female athletes who may be male may be forced to go through intrusive investigations to prove they were born female in order to ” be eligible for the competition.

Last month, Heather Gothard won the women’s division in a competitive race at Cleburne. The day after the race, she was targeted with social media posts and emails insisting that she was a transgender woman and should be banned from other races. At an Equality rally in Texas last week against the bill, Gothard, a cisgender woman, spoke out against the incident and advocates feared it was the first in a long line.

Disclosure: Equality Texas has financially supported The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, non-partisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and sponsors. Financial support plays no role in the journalism of the Tribune. Find a full list here.

Correction, May 4, 2021: This story previously indicated that State Representative Gary VanDeaver voted against the promotion of Senate Bill 29 by a House committee. VanDeaver voted to advance the bill.

The video above is taken from a previous story.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, non-partisan media organization that educates Texans – and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government, and statewide issues.

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