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Ban on transgender college athletes poised to become law in Texas

The Texas House gave initial approval to SB 15. It’s expected to gain final approval in both chambers within days.

DALLAS — The Texas House approved on first reading a bill that will force transgender college athletes at public universities to compete in sports based on their biological sex.

Senate Bill 15 has been labeled the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” because backers say it protects women athletes from competing against transgender women.

The bill expands on a ban passed during the 2021 legislative session that prevents transgender youth from participating in sports in public elementary, middle and high schools.

Supporters of the measure say it’s urgently needed.

“We must act now, or men will win men’s sports and men will win women’s sports,” said state Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring.

Swanson presented the bill on the House floor surrounded by fellow Republican women wearing pink to signal their support.

But several Democrats said there’s no need for the state to pass this into law because there are no transgender athletes at public universities.

“I can’t even remember all the places I’ve been representing this great country and the University of Houston and never, ever competed against a transgender woman,” said state Rep. Jolanda “Jo” Jones, D-Houston.

Jones is a former college athlete.

“I actually think this bill is regulating something that doesn’t exist,” she said.

Democrats also pointed out the NCAA already governs transgender competition based on, among other things, testosterone levels.

But, Republicans argued it’s the legislature’s responsibility to provide guidance to university administration.

They also claimed women could lose scholarships to fellow transgender female athletes.

State Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Allen, asked how he should talk to his daughter about the issue.

“He’s faster. He’s stronger. He’s taller. He’s taken her spot on a team because he’s physically able to perform better than she is. But he’s still a biological male and she’s a biological female. And she’s lost her spot on the team to him. What do I tell her? How is that fair?” Leach asked during debate.

Democrats tried to pass several amendments to change the bill but all failed.

Their points of order failed too.

“We try to advance more and more bills on discrimination, all while our children and our families continue to be slaughtered in our communities” said state Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos, D-Richardson. “We’re wasting time and valuable resources on discriminatory bills that do nothing to make Texas a better place.”

The bill is expected to receive final House approval within days.

It’s been slightly tweaked since it left the Senate, so it must return to the upper chamber for final passage there.

The governor has indicated he’ll sign it into law.

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