The Texas Senate passed a bill Friday night requiring transgender public school athletes to compete on teams that match their birth gender, not the gender they identify with. The controversial bill, whichin the Texas House on Thursday, will head to Governor Greg Abbott's desk if the House approves an amendment to the legislation's terminology.
Introduced by Representative Valoree Swanson, the measure restricts athletes to playing on teams that match the biological sex listed on an official birth certificate issued at or close to the time of the student's birth. A modified birth certificate will be accepted if it had been changed "to correct a clerical error," the bill states.
Transgender male athletes will be allowed to play on male teams only if there are no other options available for the sport.
Proponents of the bill assert that transgender females would have an unfair competitive advantage against athletes who were biologically female at birth. But critics have said the legislation attacks and discriminates against transgender people.
"Creating a law which will deprive trans kids of the right to participate in school activities is wrong and would enshrine discrimination against a vulnerable minority group of children into law," Susan Broyles Sookman wrote for the American Civil liberties Union Thursday. "This bill is clearly a part of a systematic attempt to strip away rights from trans kids and their parents."
Swanson said on Thursday the legislation is "all about girls and protecting them."
"I'm excited that we have the opportunity today to stand up for our daughters, granddaughters, and all our Texas girls," she said.
Brian Dakss contributed to this report.
Correction: This story has been updated to note an amendment in the Senate bill must pass the House before advancing to Abbott's desk.
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