Texas Governor Signs Bill Targeting Transgender Athletes


CeCé Telfer

Transgender athlete CeCé Telfer won an NCAA title for Franklin Pierce University.

On Monday, October 25, Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed into law House Bill 25, which requires student athletes in public schools to compete on sports teams based on the sex stated by their birth certificate. The bill is set to take effect on January 18, 2022, and lines up with similar measures being taken in several other Republican-dominated statehouses countrywide.

HB25 exceeds the current rules created by the University Interscholastic League (UIL), which enforces school sports rules in Texas. Under the UIL’s rule, students are assigned a team based on their birth certificate, but arrangements can be made to have certification that lines up with one’s gender identity. Due to this new legal change, however, the UIL must adjust their regulations in order to meet the expectations of the new bill. An excerpt from HB25, written by State House Representative Valoree Swanson (R), said, “The purpose of this act is to further the governmental interest of ensuring that sufficient interscholastic athletic opportunities remain available for girls to remedy past discrimination on the basis of sex.” 

Although some congresspeople such as Rep. Swanson claim to have good intentions by “protecting” girls and creating a fair competitive environment for them, many human rights activists still find this new bill troubling. They argue that transgender children who found a safe haven in sports can no longer find this, adding salt to a bleeding wound after Senate Bill 1311 was passed in May banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender youths. Furthermore, in 17 other states, similar transphobic legislation is being pushed by lawmakers just this year. This has led to the outrage of parents countrywide, who argue that forcing transgender girls to play sports on boys teams unreasonably attacks trans people and the LGBTQ+ comminity at large, exacerbating their increased vulnerability to mental health issues.   

Research regarding trans rights reaffirms that trans people playing with their preferred gender is not only better for their mental health, but has a clear (though often contested) biological fairness. A survey conducted by the Trevor Project investigating LGBTQ+ mental health in 2020, states that 41% of transgender youth considered suicide, but only 12% of these adolescents attempted suicide when they were treated with gender-affirming care. Additionally, studies regarding testosterone levels in girls have failed to show a clear and strong correlation between athletic ability and hormone levels, further questioning the bill’s legitimacy. Republican lawmakers also fail to realize that many cisgender women have hormonal imbalances, causing them to naturally produce more testosterone than the average amount, which further prods at the true intentions of these bills. 

Stella Del Mazza Rocha ’25, an openly queer student angered by HB25, said, “These lawmakers refuse to recognize that after a few years of hormone therapy, the hormonal gap between a cis girl and a trans girl has essentially closed, which goes to show that the reasoning behind this bill is lack of education. Because of these Texas legislatures, many trans youth will be emotionally destroyed. Imagine being so unwanted in your own community that your school purposely misgenders and targets you solely based on the way you identify. Trans youth are so incredibly marginalized and a school environment is supposed to be a safe place for students to escape this purgatory, but HB25 is creating nothing of the sort.”