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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

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Transgender athletes may soon face new restrictions

Ted+Eytan+from+Washington%2C+DC%2C+USA%2C+CC+BY-SA+2.0+%26lt%3Bhttps%3A%2F%2Fcreativecommons.org%2Flicenses%2Fby-sa%2F2.0%26gt%3B%2C+via+Wikimedia+Commons

Ted Eytan from Washington, DC, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Sports may soon look a little different for transgender athletes.
After passing through the Texas House and Senate last week, House Bill 25 will soon reach Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.
On Sunday, Oct. 17, the Texas House of Representatives accepted the Senate’s final amendments on the bill in a 76-61 vote. If signed, the bill will only allow transgender althletes to compete in sports under the sex which appears on their birth certificate.
The bill claims to support gender equality in sports by protecting female athletes from what the author claims is unfair competition.
“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,” the bill states.
The author of the bill, Rep. Valoree Swanson, said during house debates that the University Interscholastic League, or UIL, has been asking for guidance on the issue from the state government.
“All this bill does is codify what UIL is already doing,” Swanson said.
With the bill working to force transgender students to compete with those of a gender with which they do not identify, Swanson said the mental health of young cisgender female althletes is at stake.
“I am very concerned also about the mental health of our girls,” Swanson said. “Who are unfairly and will be unfairly … made to compete against biological males in many sports that endangers their safety.”
Psychological and brain sciences professor Mindy Bergman said the bill could lead to further marginalization of students who are already at a higher risk for suicide.
“If the whole state is telling you [that] you shouldn’t be here, why would you stay,” Bergman said. “And so that’s where the suicidal risk comes from, and I just can’t imagine that’s what anyone wants for our children.”
In response to similar criticism on the house floor, Swanson said she values all life.
“Every sucide is tragic,” Swanson said. “I firmly believe that every single person here and every single person in Texas is created by God, they’re very special … every single life is important.”
Health and kinesiology professor George Cunningham said research has shown for the majority of people, gender does not play a major role in sports.
“There’s been a lot of research in this area and the systematic reviews of that show that there are no differences in athletic performance,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham said legislation similar to House Bill 25 often try to solve a problem which doesn’t exist.
“If you say that somebody needs to protect it, it means they’re really not as good as somebody else or that they’re systematically disadvantaged, and that’s just simply not the case if we think about athletics and athletic performance,” Cunningham said.
These bills also oppose the more inclusive regulations set by higher levels of athleticism, including the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, and NCAA, visualization senior and President of Transcend Fray Miller said.
“The NCAA and the IOC have adopted fully inclusive policies for transgender athlestes,” Miller said.
Miller agrees the bill not only hurts transgender women, but also cisgender women.
“It’s representing women in sports as being like a very narrow margin of estrogen and testosterone levels and also like a very specific body type in terms of height and muscle mass,” Miller said.
The bill affects beyond just the transgender community, Miller said.
“Supporting trans people is something that can be very cross cultural and not necessarily just for the trans community,” Miller said. “Recognizing that these bills not only hurt trans people but also harm cis gender allies and cis gender kids specifically is very important.”

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