Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs bill setting restrictions on transgender athletes in college sports

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday signed legislation that would ban transgender women from women’s college sports.

The measure adds to a 2021 Texas law requiring teams from high school through public schools “must be designated by the sex of the student at birth.”

Senate Bill 15, known as the Save Women’s Sports Act, mandates that intercollegiate athletes compete based on their biological sex or the “correct” sex on a student’s birth certificate.

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Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference March 15, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

“Today is a big day for female athletes in Texas, including little girls who aspire to one day compete in college sports,” Abbott said Thursday at The Hill in Austin.

“This Act applies to any interscholastic athletic competition sponsored or authorized by a public institution of higher education on or after the effective date of this Act,” the legislation states.

The law will come into effect as early as September 1.

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The legislation also says the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will pass rules to make the bill effective, ensuring state and federal laws “regarding the confidentiality of student medical information” are guaranteed.

“An institution of higher education or an intercollegiate athletic team . . . shall not retaliate against a person for reporting a violation of this section,” the bill states.

NCAA logo before DIII National Basketball Tournament

March 19, 2022 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana prior to the Division III National Championship basketball game between the Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets and the Elmhurst Blue Jays , with the NCAA logo displayed on the goalposts. (Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It suggests college students in Texas will have a clear path to sue their schools if transgender athletes break the law.

During Thursday’s signing ceremony, Abbott referred to transgender women and girls as “men” in his speech.

“The Save Women in Sports Act protects young women at Texas colleges and universities by prohibiting men from competing with them on teams or as individuals in college sports,” he said, via The Hill.

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The NCAA has a policy that allows transgender women to compete on women’s sports teams. However, it made changes last year, with participation determined by sport.

In March 2022, when Penn’s Lia Thomas won the NCAA national championship in the 500-yard freestyle, NCAA swim teams saw one of the most famous stories of trans women in college sports. She became the first openly transgender athlete to win a Division I title, which was met with backlash.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (Shelby Tauber/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Riley Gaines, who swam for Kentucky and was a 12-time All-American, has been outspoken about her rivalry with Thomas and how he has an advantage over her because Thomas is a man.

Since their collegiate days ended, both Gaines and Thomas have pushed their own agendas about trans women in sports.

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According to the Movement Advancement Project, Texas is one of 22 states that have passed laws prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in sports based on their gender identity.

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