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Texas Gov. Abbott signs bill banning transgender athletes from participating on college sports teams aligned with their gender identities

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that bans trans athletes from participating on collegiate sports teams that match their gender identities on Thursday. The new law will take effect in September.

S.B. 15 — also called the "Save Women's Sports Act" by its supporters — builds on legislation passed in the state in 2021 that banned trans women and girls in K-12 schools from participating on sports teams aligned with their gender identities. It forces athletes to compete on teams on the basis of their "biological sex," or the sex that was "correctly stated" on their birth certificate, according to the text of the legislation.

The bill includes provisions that prevent trans athletes who have had their sex changed on their birth certificates from participating on sports teams aligned with their gender identities by defining sex as what was "entered on or near the time of the student's birth," and only recognizes changes made to birth certificates that were done to correct a clerical error.

"Today is an important day for female athletes across the state of Texas, including little girls who aspire to one day compete in college sports," said Abbott in a press release. "The Save Women's Sports Act protects young women at Texas colleges and universities by prohibiting men from competing on a team or as an individual against them in college sports."

Abbott has consistently called trans women and girls "men" and "biological boys" in his messaging around the bill — the latter of which LGBTQ+ media advocacy organization GLAAD calls "a term to avoid."

"'Biological boy' is a term anti-trans activists often use to disregard and discredit transgender girls and deny them access to society as their authentic gender identity," writes GLAAD.

Advocacy organizations were quick to condemn the new law, with the ACLU of Texas tweeting that the law is "unfair, unconstitutional, and just plain cruel."

"Trans students deserve to participate in the sports they love," the ACLU of Texas added.

"Even as elected officials ignore their duty to serve Texans and instead target a vulnerable minority, create problems that do not exist, and use our taxpayer dollars to do so — transgender lives can never be erased," said Marti Bier, vice president of programs at the Texas Freedom Network. "No matter what laws are passed by the extremists currently in power, our communities will find love and support within each other."

Earlier this month, Abbott signed a law banning gender-affirming care for trans youth in Texas. That law also will go into effect on September 1.

According to Best Colleges, at least 16 other states have similar restrictions on trans athletes participating in collegiate sports, and at least 22 states have bans on K-12 trans athletes from participating on sports teams consistent with their gender identity, according to the Movement Advancement Project, which tracks legislation impacting the LGBTQ+ community.

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