Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday signed into law legislation that prohibits biological men from competing in women’s collegiate sports.
Senate Bill 15 requires collegiate athletes play on the team that corresponds with their biological sex.
“Women’s college athletic teams are being threatened. Collegiate records that women set are being threatened,” Gov. Abbott said at a bill signing ceremony for the Save Women’s Sports Act.
“The legacy of women’s sports will be safeguarded for generations to come,” he said. “Women in Texas can be assured that the integrity of their sports will be protected.”
If a school or team violates the new law it stipulates they are entitled to bring a civil action for injunctive relief.
Supporters of the bill, such as Mary Elizabeth Castle, director of government relations for Texas Values, told The College Fix it is a “huge victory for Texas women college athletes.”
“The voices of the University of Texas alumni women college athletes who spoke out against Lia ‘Will’ Thomas swimming in the women’s NCAA championship were heard and answered” she said. “The laws in Texas to protect female sports from kindergarten to college simply ensure the fairness, safety and victory in sports that Title IX has promised for the past 50 years.”
In 2021, Texas passed a law that requires elementary and high school students to play in the sports category that matches their biological gender.
The latest Texas bill focused on collegiate sports had passed the House and Senate in late May.
“Democrats made multiple unsuccessful attempts to kill the bill on technicalities and failed to add several amendments that would’ve watered it down or voided it,” the Texas Tribune reported in May.
Critics contend the legislation prevents students from playing sports as their “true selves” and have described it as cruel.
In March, a rally was held at the Texas capitol, where NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines said she was forced to change in the same locker room as Thomas, who has not surgically transitioned.
“I was waiting for a coach or a parent or someone within the NCAA, someone who was supposed to be protecting us, to protect us,” Gaines reportedly said at the rally.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association had previously allowed transgender athletes to compete in the category corresponding to their gender identity.
In 2020 the NCAA also introduced additional requirements, including hormone-level regulations, that transgender athletes must meet to compete. However, last year the NCAA announced that the eligibility of transgender athletes to participate in sports aligned with their identified gender would be evaluated on a sport-by-sport basis.