The Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs has approved a bill restricting transgender athletes in intercollegiate athletic competitions.
Senate Bill 15, also known as the Save Women’s Sports Act, authored by Republican state Sen. Mayes Middleton would require college-level athletes to compete based on a student’s biological sex as shown on their birth certificate. The bill would also prevent retaliation against a person who reports a violation. (pdf)
“Texas Values is excited to see that the Save Women’s Sports bill has moved one step closer to victory in the legislative process,” Mary Elizabeth Castle, Director of Government Relations at Texas Values, told The Epoch Times in a statement. Texas Values is a conservative group that advocates for traditional Judeo-Christian values.
On Thursday, the committee passed the bill in a vote of 7-3. The bill must pass in the full Senate and House before it can be delivered to Gov. Greg Abbott for a signature to become law.
In 2021, Abbott signed legislation requiring students who compete in interscholastic sports to play on teams that match the sex on their birth certificate.
Former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines, 22, was among several athletes who testified before the committee on Monday in favor of the bill. Gaines stepped into the spotlight last year after she competed against a biological male at the NCAA championship.
Gaines set six records at the University of Kentucky and three-time NCAA championships qualifier and U.S. Olympics qualifier, according to her website.
“I urge you to pass Senate Bill 15,” Gaines said before sharing her experience as an athlete who competed against a transgender swimmer on March 17, 2022, in the NCAA championship.
“My teammates and I, as well as female swimmers from around the country, were forced to compete against a biological male Lia Thomas,” Gaines told the committee. “Thomas was allowed to compete in the women’s division after competing at the University of Pennsylvania’s men’s swim team for three years prior.”
Gaines said Thomas swam to a national title in the 500-meter freestyle on the first day of competition, beating the most accomplished athletes.
The next day Gaines competed against Thomas in the 200-meter freestyle, resulting in a tie for fifth place. The two came in at the exact same time, down to the hundredth of a second.
The NCAA awarded the trophy to Thomas and sent Gaines home empty-handed, Gaines testified.
“I felt betrayed and belittled and like my efforts, and the sacrifices I had made had been reduced to a photo op to validate [Thomas],” Gaines said.
Gaines became visibly shaken as she continued her testimony about the NCAA allowing Thomas to use the women’s locker room.
“The NCAA forced females to share a locker room with Thomas, a six-foot-four, 22-year-old male equipped with and exposing male genitalia and a room full of vulnerable, undressed women,” she said.
“Let me be clear, we have not forewarned about this arrangement, we did not give our consent, and we were not asked for our consent.
“And if nothing else, I truly hope you can see how this is a violation of our right to privacy and how some of us have felt uncomfortable, awkward, embarrassed, and even traumatized by this experience,” Gaines continued.
Castle, also in attendance during the testimony, told The Epoch Times that “men in women’s sports threaten their opportunity and safety.”
Next Steps for HB 15
The bill must pass in the full Senate and House before it can be delivered to Abbott for a signature to become law.
“This should not be hard considering the House version of SB 15 already has 77 co-authors,” Castle added. “I have met with Gov. Greg Abbott, and he is both knowledgeable of the issue and supportive of a law to save women’s sports.”