The Texas House approved a bill on Thursday that will prohibit transgender children from playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity. It is extremely likely to pass the Senate.
The House voted 76-54 to pass H.B. 25, which bans kids from playing on a sports team that doesn’t correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificate.
The University Interscholastic League, which governs Texas school sports, already has a similar rule in place, but H.B. 25 is even stricter, requiring parents to show a birth certificate issued at birth, just in case a minor had the gender marker on their birth certificate corrected.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Valoree Swanson (R), who claimed to be protecting cisgender girls during the 10-hour debate that proceeded the vote.
“This is all about girls and protecting them in our UIL sports,” Swanson said, according to CBS News. “I’m excited that we have the opportunity today to stand up for our daughters, granddaughters, and all our Texas girls.”
Swanson has previously claimed there are boys in the state who transition just to win at girls sports. When asked when that has ever happened, she could not name an example.
Meanwhile, Democratic representatives begged Republicans to reconsider supporting the bill.
Rep. Celia Israel opened up about her own suicide attempt as a teenager due to her gay identity, reported the Texas Tribune.
“We’re playing games with the people who’ve represented the state that we claim to love,” Israel said. “You’re causing more pain tonight. We hope the courts will protect us, but damage has been done.”
The vote was part of the third special legislative session in the state this year. The bill had previously failed in the House three times, but easily passed the Senate each time. As such, it is expected to do so again.
Trans advocates have repeatedly condemned the legislation. In a statement on its passage in the House, Adri Perez, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas, said the bill is unconstitutional and puts the mental health of trans kids at risk.
“There is no evidence that transgender kids pose any threat,” Perez said. “It is indefensible that legislators would force transgender youth and their families to travel to Austin to defend their own humanity, then blatantly ignore hours of testimony about the real damage this bill causes.”
“Trans kids and their families deserve our love and support — they’ve been fighting this legislation for months. Texans will hold lawmakers accountable for their cruelty.”
Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, called the passage of H.B. 25 “a hateful, targeted attack on transgender people living in Texas.”
“Extremists in our Legislature have continuously leveraged cruel rhetoric and rampant misinformation to coordinate this attack on the transgender community — young children in particular ,” Martinez said, “and have sent a clear message that Texas is not a safe place for them to live.”
Martinez also discussed the repeated trauma trans children and their families have had to go through to testify and protest against the many anti-trans bills the Texas legislature continues to propose.
“The ‘debate’ over this anti-transgender bill is already exacerbating intolerance, fueling discrimination, and solidifying Texas’ reputation as the leading state for violence against trans people,” he said.
According to Equality Texas, more than 70 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been proposed in the state this year.
During earlier testimony to The House Select Committee on Constitutional Rights and Remedies about H.B. 25, Amber Briggle, a mother of a transgender son who has already been testifying before the state legislature this year, told the committee about the increase in calls at suicide hotlines from transgender youth this year. The Trevor Project recently said they have noticed a 150% increase in calls from trans youth in the state.
“Trans kids are so traumatized that they’re calling a suicide prevention hotline begging for help,” she said. “The bill’s authors, and all who support this, are responsible.”