Austin, TX

Austin: The Back and Forth on Transgender Sports Continues

Nicole Akers

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Austin, TX: The capital of Texas is once again a battleground for laws on controversial matters. This time it's to decide if transgender children can play sports on the team they identify with for school sports.

The bill is revived by Democratic state Rep. Harold Dutton, Senate Bill 29, which would require students to play on teams on the basis of their sex and not by their gender identity.

The bill did not initially pass. KXAN Austin reports:

A Texas House committee failed to advance a Senate bill Tuesday that would ban transgender students from competing on sports teams corresponding to their gender identity.

Members of the House public education committee voted down Senate Bill 29 at the conclusion of their hearing. The Texas Tribune reports that Alma A. Allen sank the bill on a technicality.

But, the bill is back and has already passed the Senate. Dutton promised to re-energize efforts behind the bill and is making good on those promises. He brought the transgender bill up for another vote, saying:

“The bill that was killed last night affected far more children than this bill ever will. So as a consequence, the chair moves that Senate Bill 29 as substituted be reported favorably to the full House with the recommendation that it do pass,” he said.

What do athletes think about the bill?

Caitlyn Jenner, an Olympic gold medalist says "a question of fairness.”

Jenner says:

“That's why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls' sports in school. It just isn't fair. And we have to protect girls’ sports in our schools,” Jenner said Saturday during a brief interview in a Malibu parking lot.

Jenner goes on to say:

“I think every trans person, if they’re into athletics, should have an opportunity to compete and to improve themselves," Jenner said in April 2020 on the Outsports podcast, The Trans Sporter Room, according to Forbes. "I think sports is such a great way to learn a lot about yourself. ... Hopefully they’ll have the opportunity in the future to do whatever they can do. I’m all for it. I’m all for it.”

What do Austin athletes think?

Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano), says it's important to protect the integrity of women's sports, saying it's about safety and fairness. Shaheen says he's hearing from parents who want to protect the fairness fo their daughters who want to play sports. He says to Austin & DFW Area CBS news:

“We get emails, we get phone calls about it. I have a lot of constituents, really Texans throughout the state that want to protect women's sports," he said. "Again they have got daughters that are competing in high school sports and they want to have an opportunity for fair competition."

He goes on to say:

“It's important that we get this done and I have a high level of confidence that we will this legislative session,” Shaheen said.

There isn't much time left in this legislative session for the bill to be approved. If approved, it will likely affect student-athletes who plan to attend school in person for the coming school year.

The core issues seem to be equity, fairness, and safety. Arguments for and against the bill are being made by lawmakers in Austin.

If the bill passes The House, it will not immediately go into law. It will go to Texas Governor Greg Austin for signature. The early indication is that the Governor will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

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