The House Committee on Constitutional Rights & Remedies voted Wednesday evening to advance House Bill 25, legislation that would ban trans youth from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.
If passed, a student’s official birth certificate would be used to determine whether they could play on their desired male or female team.
The 8-4 vote to advance the legislation came after several hours of emotional testimony by trans children, their parents, and LGBTQ advocates.
Witnesses against the bill warned the legislation would continue to cause harm to trans youth, many of whom are struggling with mental health issues.
Many parents said repeated attempts to pass the bill — this is at least the fourth time Republican lawmakers have tried to pass the bill this year — has created a negative and unhealthy environment for their children and other Texas trans youth.
“I shouldn’t be here right now, I should be in school,” said Sunny, an 8-year-old trans child who previously testified against similar legislation.
Maya, 10, said she quit practicing gymnastics because she feared her team would be disqualified because she was trans. She said she missed picture day at school in order to testify against the bill.
The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention hotline for LGTBQ youth said crisis calls from young Texans seeking help have increased by 150 percent compared to 2020.
Others testifying raised objections over the bill concerning its constitutionality and economic impact on the state.
So far, more than 70 Texas businesses, including Amazon, Facebook, and Dell, have signed a letter warning that such discriminatory laws would make life more difficult for employees and make it more difficult to retain and recruit talented workers.
For the most part, those speaking against the bill expressed frustration with lawmakers for attacking trans youth and failing to address other issues in the state, such as fixing its unstable electrical grid.
Republicans are pushing the bill as a way to promote fairness in sports and equality for women.
“Have you thought about proposing legislation to deal with the lack of funding supporting female athletes?” Rep. Ann Johnson (D-Houston) asked bill author Rep. Valoree Swanson (R-Spring).
When asked how many cases in Texas have seen a straight male attempting to transition in order to have a competitive advantage, Swanson was unable to provide a figure.
HB 25 is one of more than 75 anti-LGBTQ bills that have been filed since January, according to advocacy group Equality Texas.
The Senate version of the bill passed the chamber in September and is awaiting action in the House Public Education Committee.
Photo: Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images