As we all know, the novel coronavirus pandemic has continued to slam the nation, in some states more than others. Why? A combination of factors, but not least among them a lack of leadership mandating mask-wearing. We've seen some Republican-led states, like Texas, stomp down on any attempts to keep residents safe in the name of “freedom” and “personal responsibility,” even as cases and deaths have surged time and time again. But state Republicans don’t want to impose on people’s freedoms, so they’re willing to let folks live with long-term health effects, or even die.
What are they more than happy to regulate, though? Trans youth in sports. Not once, not twice, but three times this year alone, Republicans have pushed discriminatory anti-trans legislation through the Texas state Senate. All three times, that legislation has (thankfully) fizzled in the House before reaching the governor’s desk. But as reported by The Texas Tribune, House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican, claimed the Texas House now has the votes it needs to pass anti-trans legislation.
Phelan, who spoke about the anti-trans legislation’s potential fresh live during an interview at TribFest, said that a number of House members have signed onto the bill as authors already. “One author, in particular, has close to 80 coauthors on the bill,” Phelan stated. “So the votes are there on the House floor.” In the Texas House, a bill only needs 76 votes to pass.
The bill, Senate Bill 3, passed in the Senate on Wednesday. The bill, as a reminder, would apply to student-athletes from kindergarten through twelfth grade at public schools. It would force students to compete on teams that match their sex as identified on their birth certificate either at or near the time of birth. Meaning even youth who are able to update their birth certificate (which not everyone can, for a multitude of reasons) are not allowed to participate.
The one exception allowed in this bill is for people assigned female at birth to play on the boys' team if there isn't a girls' team for that sport.
One glimmer of hope? Phelan admitted it’s not yet a sure thing that the bill will make it through committee and reach the House floor for a vote. “Like any other piece of legislation,” he added. “It’ll be incumbent upon the author to make the case throughout the process, and we’ll see if it makes it to the House floor.”
Allies, advocates, and openly trans folks, too, provide an ongoing hope. For example, a number of trans supporters showed up to speak at Tuesday’s hearing. For example, Danielle Skidmore testified against the legislation, describing it as “incessant bullying” that directly relates to “bullying and harming children,” as reported by local outlet Fox 4 News.
When Republican Sen. Charles Perry gave a bad-faith hypothetical about a teenage boy wanting to change the sex on their birth certificate to cheat the system, advocate Adri Perez was present to shut down that offensive and outrageous line of thinking.
"To assert that somebody would go through that process and swear under oath before a court the information they’re presenting is true and valid just to compete in a sports team is preposterous," Perez stated.
A truly staggering amount of anti-trans bills have floated in the Texas House and Senate this year alone, ranging from attempts to keep trans kids out of sports to trying to bar physicians from providing age-appropriate, safe, necessary gender-affirming medical care. While none have actually made it to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk, he’s made it clear he’s more than happy to prioritize anti-trans legislation in these special sessions, and frankly, more than clear that he’ll sign such legislation into law should he get the chance.