Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 25, legislation that would restrict transgender girls in scholastic athletic competition in the nation’s second most populous state, Monday. The law is set to take effect on Jan. 18, 2022.
Texas becomes the 10th state to enact such regulation, by floor vote or executive order, since March 2020. The state joins Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana, and Idaho. Federal judges, in subsequent rulings, blocked implementation in Idaho and West Virginia.
The law would compel the state’s University Interscholastic League to limit a student-athlete to competition in the gender that is denoted on the birth certificate at or near the time of birth. Any amended birth certificates, which are were previously accepted by the UIL, could not be accepted under the new law.
Texas state Republican Rep. Valoree Swanson, the author of the legislation, said she was “overjoyed” in a statement after the signing. Further statements from proponents echoed the basic argument saying HB25 intends to uphold Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination in education on the basis of sex.
“We need a statewide level playing field,” Swanson said during a contentious 10-hour debate Oct. 14 . “It’s very important that we, who got elected to be here, protect our girls.”
Opponents of the bills among legislators and advocates contend that HB25 sends a negative message to transgender Texans. “This is a dark and frightening day for thousands of families in Texas who fear for the safety and future of their transgender children,” said Human Rights Campaign Texas State Director Rebecca Marques in a written statement. “Transgender animus is on the rise in Texas and across the country as evidenced by discriminatory legislation, and this only serves to give fire to the hate we’re seeing.”
Representatives of the advocacy group Equality Texas put forth a statement after the news of the signing saying: “If Texans want to protect children, the goal shouldn’t be to prevent trans kids from participating in sports, but to give all kids the freedom to make friends and play without fearing the kind of discrimination many older trans people face on a daily basis.”
Austin-based policy analyst Ash Hall was even more blunt leading up to the signing. “HB25, just debating it, made calls to suicide hotlines spike up,” Hall said on last week’s edition of the Trans Sporter Room podcast. “Passing this bill does put the lives of our kids in danger.”
The signing ended a long chapter in a saga that has lasted more 10 months, through dozens of pieces of legislation and hours of hearings and debate. Much of that filtered in to a frantic week leading to final passage by the Texas House on Oct. 17.