Texas Governor Greg Abbott has vowed to ban transgender athletes from competing in college sports, with a bill set to be proposed during the state’s next legislative session. In 2021, Texas became one of 18 states to restrict transgender athletes from sports, which sparked legal challenges across the country.
During his announcement, Abbott referred to Harvard transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, a 22-year-old University of Pennsylvania swimmer who sparked a national debate after winning titles and breaking records. He explained, “We’ve fought for the rights of women to be able to succeed in this world only to have that now superseded by this ideology that men are going to be empowered to compete against women.” Thomas had undergone hormone treatment to lower testosterone levels to participate in college sports, in compliance with NCAA policy that was recently updated to allow transgender athletes to compete.
Abbott’s proposal was criticized by LGBTQ groups, who argued that such legislation would leave trans athletes without a way to express themselves in sports. Trans athletes and their allies have challenged restrictions on their participation in sports, arguing that the laws are not “protecting girls” but are hurting girls because they believe transgender girls are girls.