The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday mandating that transgender athletes participate in school sports teams corresponding to the biological sex listed on their birth certificate.
The bill passed 76–54 after failing to advance on three previous attempts, and will now be sent to the state Senate for deliberation. Representative Valoree Swanson, the bill’s sponsor, said it would protect women and girls from unfair competition.
“This is about protecting the 332,000 girls 7th through 8th grade playing UIL sports in the state of Texas,” Swanson said during floor debate on the measure. “No matter how much a biological male takes suppression hormones they still have a tremendous advantage.”
Representative Julie Johnson, a Democrat, criticized the bill.
“How can you say that girls are being unfairly positioned in competition in the state of Texas to justify this bill [when] there has not been a single complaint” to the state’s University Interscholastic League about transgender athletes, Johnson said on Friday.
Republicans legislators in 32 states have attempted to advance similar laws, according to Reuters. West Virginia governor Jim Justice signed a law banning male athletes from participating in girls’ sports earlier this year, however a federal judge blocked that law in response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, on behalf of a transgender girl.
Earlier this year, Arkansas became the first state to pass legislation banning gender-transition surgery for minors, with the legislature overriding Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto. However, that law was also blocked by a federal judge in response to an ACLU suit.