AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas bill to require transgender student-athletes to compete only in sports that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificate passed in the Texas Senate by a 19-12 vote. The bill now heads to the House.
This comes after it passed out of the Senate's Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday without amendments.
Senate Bill 3 does make one exception: allowing biological girls to play on a boys sports team if there isn't a girls team for that sport and the University Interscholastic League (UIL) allows it.
The bill, SB3, passed from the Senate's Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday 6-3 along party lines, with Republicans supporting the measure.
State Sen. Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) said he voted against the measure passing committee, saying, “Our laws should fix real problems facing Texas children, not made-up ones.”
Blanco cited a Trevor Project study that found 75% of LGBTQ youth faced discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Meanwhile State Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), vice chair of the committee, argued for the bill, saying, “What if a boy decided that day he was a girl, just to get a nefarious advantage?”
The public hearing on Tuesday was met with protest outside the Senate chamber from members of Equality Texas. At the hearing, about two-thirds of those who testified were against the bill. The committee reported that, of those that did not speak, 76 were against, three were for and two registered on the bill.
"These bills seek to solve the imaginary problem of transgender girls dominating youth athletics," said one person during public comment. "Instead, this incessant bullying by the Texas Legislature is directly harming children."
"So it's called women's sports, not co-ed sports for a reason. Fair play, fair competition. We should uphold Title IX," said another, who was for the bill. "I've always known there's a difference in a boy's or a man's strength compared to mine. Throughout my life I've seen that difference."
This is the fourth time the chamber has taken up the measure this year.
Numerous bills targeting transgender Texans were introduced during this year’s regular legislative session but failed to make it to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. Those bills included legislation to restrict transgender student athletes’ participation in school sports and legislation to ban doctors from offering gender-affirming medical care.
Abbott has made limiting transgender student athletes’ participation in sports a priority in all three special sessions he’s called since May, but it failed to pass during the first two special sessions. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the bill is a personal priority for the third special session that started on Monday.
PEOPLE ARE ALSO READING: