Texas state representatives pass contentious Fair Play legislation

by mcardinal

Lauren Moye, FISM NEWS


After months of debate and failed attempts to pass a similar senate bill, Texas state representatives passed the Fair Play in Women’s Sports Act late on Thursday.

H.B. 25 guarantees the rights of girls and women to play sports without competing against biological males who identify as transgender females. The bill was sponsored by Republican Valoree Swanson.

In the house debate Swanson said, “We need a statewide level playing field.”

State Senator Charles Perry publicly stated about the bill, “A lot of times we say bills are transformational. This is actually one that drew the line in the sand: that biological females should stay with biological females and biological males should stay with biological males.”

Perry sponsored a similar bill, S.B. 29, earlier in the year. However, this bill failed to pass in the house despite majority support when the democratic chair of the Public Education Committee held up the bill. This prompted House representatives to create their own version of the bill that could be passed through Republican-controlled committees to finally receive a vote.

When introducing the house-drafted legislation Swanson said, “Women secured the right to vote 100 years ago. We secured the right to equal opportunity in high school and collegiate sports in 1972. Now, biological males are threatening those gains by entering girls’ sports and robbing them of both championship trophies and scholarship opportunities.”

The Fair Play act codifies an existing Texas ruling that protects biological females from unfair competition. In 2016, the University Interscholastic League ruled that public schools must use the gender listed on an athlete’s birth certificate to determine their team eligibility. H.B. 25 takes this one step further by stating that the certificate must be unmodified.

Texas state senators passed the bill on Friday with one amendment that will help protect a child’s medical information from illegal disclosure. Once house representatives approve this amendment the legislation will go to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk. He signaled back in April that he would sign this bill into law.

That means Texas will join eight existing states with similar laws: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Some of these laws are undergoing court challenges.

Republicans introduced Fair Play acts in the majority of states this year. LGBTQ+ advocates have vilified these legislations as being unfair attacks on vulnerable children. They point to studies on depression and suicide rates among transgendered youth as evidence of harm that these laws will cause.

The debate was not absent on the Texas House of Representatives floor. Democrat Representative Erin Zwiener, who also is secretary of the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus, said, “This is not about girls’ sports. This is about trying to police people and their behavior and their gender expression.”

Republican Representative Tony Tinderholt asked, “What about the females that are trying to play sports and compete and get scholarships, and they’re forced to play against people that are created differently? Are you thinking about them at all? I’m concerned about them.”