Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed a controversial bill on Thursday barring transgender college athletes in the state from competing in sports that align with their gender identity. The new law expands upon a 2021 law that banned transgender students in K-12 Texas school districts and some charter schools from doing the same.
It will take effect on September 1, according to a news release from Abbott.
Abbott framed Senate Bill 15, titled the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” as necessary to protect female athletes from unfair competition.
“Women’s sports are being threatened. Some women are being forced to compete against biological men,” he said during a signing event Thursday.
The new law now allows individuals to sue institutions that allow trans athletes to compete on teams that align with their gender identity.
Despite proponents arguments that transgender women have a physical advantage over cisgender women, a 2017 report in the journal Sports Medicine found “no direct or consistent research” on trans people having an athletic advantage over their cisgender counterparts.
Opponents say the restrictions are discriminatory.
“SB 15 is yet another harmful attack from anti-LGBTQ lawmakers on transgender Texans’ right to be embraced, accepted, and able to thrive — particularly in Texas’ public universities and colleges,” said Marti Bier with the Texas Freedom Network, which lobbies against conservative legislation and policies affecting education.
The new law comes after Abbott signed a ban on gender-affirming care for most minors in the state earlier this month.
The ACLU has already recorded over 490 anti-LGBTQ bills that have been introduced so far this year.