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Texas Effectively Bans Transgender Kids from Playing Sports

One trans rights activists said the legislation was just "adults bullying kids."

Texas Governor Greg Abbott used the state’s current legislative session to limit the ability of trans kids to play sports.

On Monday, October 26, the governor quietly signed a bill that forces trans kids to play on teams that match the sex listed on the birth certificate created at birth, ESPN reports.

Previously, things weren’t necessarily easy for trans kids in Texas, as the state required them to play on the team that aligned with their birth certificate — but that had included updated birth certificates, ESPN notes, which was a nice way for children who had birth certificates altered to correspond to their true identity be able to play sports regardless. This new law effectively and purposely takes away that option by saying that the birth certificate must be the one issued at birth, or one corrected only to edit a “clerical error.”

The legislation also makes an exception to allow kids assigned female at birth to play on a boys’ team if there is no girls’ team for that sport, but not the other way around.

Andrea Segovia of the Transgender Education Network of Texas told EPSN that the law was “adults bullying kids.” And Texas is far from the only state to pass legislation like this recently — further reporting at ESPN notes that states such as South Dakota, Montana, and Mississippi have passed laws restricting how trans kids can play sports. Some of these state laws apply solely to trans girls wanting to play on girls’ teams; the Texas law applies to all children.

Yet, according to ESPN, other states actively promote trans kids’ rights on the athletic field. California, for instance, passed a law mandating that trans students be able to choose their sports teams, and Washington, D.C. also says that students must be allowed to make that decision themselves, the publication reports.

In addition to restrictions on sports, states like Arkansas have also recently moved to block trans kids from getting access to gender-affirming care, despite evidence showing that such healthcare can lead to significant mental health benefits for trans and non-binary kids.

Not only do restrictions on athletics make it more difficult for these students to play sports, but they also reiterate a message to these kids that they’re not welcome. But parents and other members of their community can do plenty to counter those messages — like using the correct pronouns and showing that you support them.