Texas Lawmakers Move To Disqualify Trans High School Athletes
Since Donald Trump took office, the Texas legislature has proposed legislation that threatens the marriage and adoption rights of LGBT Texans. Now, Texas lawmakers want to disqualify trans high school athletes from participating in state competitions.
The policies that govern trans participation in high school sports came under scrutiny in February, thanks in large part to the plight of trans male wrestler Mack Beggs. Although Beggs, a high school junior, had wanted to compete in the male division, Texas requires trans athletes to compete against the gender that's listed on their birth certificate. Beggs, who has a 56-0 win-loss record, was thus forced to compete against girls, and the father of an opponent he defeated later filed a lawsuit in an attempt to get him disqualified.
Currently, trans high school athletes in Texas are allowed to take steroids, so long as they're "dispensed, prescribed, delivered and administered by a medical practitioner." But the proposed legislation, which has passed the Texas Senate and now heads the House, would allow the University Interscholastic League, which oversees high school sports in the state, to disqualify any trans competitor if "the safety of competing students or the fairness of a particular competition has been or will be substantially affected by the student's steroid use."
However, the bill wouldn't eliminate the requirement that trans athletes face off against the gender listed on their birth certificates. This means that trans students undergoing hormone therapy could effectively be blocked from participating in sports altogether.
Republican state Sen. Bob Hall proposed the legislation two weeks after Beggs won the title, and insists that it's necessary "for fairness and safety of the students."
“This bill is not addressing who plays on what sports,” Hall said, according to the Texas Tribune. “This bill is addressing individuals who...are taking steroids, then make sure, as a result of that, the events remain safe and fair.”
But Democratic state Sen. Sen. Sylvia Garcia told CNN that "the real intent of the bill is to keep young transgender athletes from participating in sports," and that Texas needs "to make sure they're free to participate just like everybody else."
The legislation is just one of many pending bills Texas that would open the door to anti-LGBT discrimination in the state: On Wendesday, the state House passed a bill that would allow state adoption agencies to turn away same-sex couples.