The Texas House of Representatives has passed a bill which is likely to result in a law banning transgender girls and women from participating in female school sports.
The bill, which was passed after three previous attempts failed, will go back to the Texas Senate for procedural approval. It will then be given to Republican Governor Greg Abbott to sign it into law.
Texas will join seven other states that have passed similar laws this year, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee and West Virginia. Some of these face legal challenges.
The legislation, which applies to public school teams through high school, is part of a national campaign introduced by Republicans in 32 states. They claim it is protecting fair competition.
But, equal rights activists have argued there is no evidence that trans women and girls are dominating sports. Ricardo Martinez, chief executive of the LGBTQ rights group Equality Texas, called the bill a “hateful, targeted attack on transgender people.”
Political analysts have agreed, with Robert Stein, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston, telling Reuters: “There’s no evidence that there’s a problem. This is red meat for the base.”
New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard made history this summer when she became the first openly transgender athlete to compete in a different gender category at the Olympic Games.
She struggled to make a mark in the women’s over-87 kilogram division, however, failing to record a single lift in the snatch. This knocked her out of contention for a medal, and she did not go on to compete in the clean and jerk.
Hubbard qualified for Tokyo 2020 after meeting the eligibility standards set by the International Olympic Committee, but the organisation is set to update its transgender guidelines soon.
It has delayed the update until after the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing due to “very conflicting opinions” on the framework.
A landmark report from UK Sport, Sport England, Sport Wales, SportScotland and Sport Northern Ireland recently issued new guidelines on transgender inclusion in non-elite sport.
The report concluded current policies are not fit for purpose, arguing there is no way to balance the inclusion of trans women in female sport while guaranteeing competitive fairness and safety.
It also claimed transgender women retained their physique, stamina and strength advantages when competing in female sport, even when they reduce their testosterone levels.
Sports across the UK will now have to individually decide whether to prioritise inclusion, “competitive fairness”, or safety.