Monday saw Texas Governor Greg Abbott taking a divisive step at Texas Woman’s University as he ceremonially inked Senate Bill 15, prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in college sports. Supporters hail it as a safeguard for women’s sports, while critics call it a blatant act of discrimination. Let’s take a look at the full story.
Governor Abbott Validates Controversial ‘Save Women’s Sports Act’
In a move that has ignited passions on both sides of the debate, Governor Greg Abbott arrived at Texas Woman’s University in Denton on Monday to ceremoniously validate a controversial piece of legislation – Senate Bill 15.
Senate Bill 15
Dubbed the “Save Women’s Sports Act” by its backers, the law, set to be effective in September, prohibits transgender athletes from competing in Texan college sports.
Ceremonial Ground for Senate Bill 15
Having already officially endorsed the bill in June, Abbott took center stage to articulate the motivations behind his support. “Women have thrived in college sports in America,” he announced.
Upholding Tradition and Female Athlete Success
“They have mastered discipline. They have harnessed drive in order to be able to succeed. [..] They learn how to hone skills and then translate them into successful careers and families. Those attributes, which are byproducts of women’s college sports, will not be destroyed in the state of Texas.”
Echoes of Past Legislation
The ceremony wasn’t just a standalone event.
It echoed legislation from 2021, where Texas decreed that transgender athletes in grades K-12 could only participate in sports in line with their birth certificate’s designated biological sex.
Former Athletes’ Support
Amid the pomp and circumstance of the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in the Blagg-Huey Library, Abbott was flanked by a slew of political figures.
Riley Gaines and Paula Scanlan
Notably, former college swimmers Riley Gaines and Paula Scanlan were present.
Following their swimming careers, both have voiced concerns about transgender athletes in women’s sports.
Encounters With Trans Athletes
Scanlan once shared the pool with trans swimmer Lia Thomas at the University of Pennsylvania. Gaines, meanwhile, had a riveting tie with Thomas during the 2022 NCAA championships.
These encounters have made them stalwart supporters of the bill.
Gaines, recounting her emotional ordeal when she tied with Thomas, felt that the NCAA undermined her by favoring Thomas in a trophy presentation.
“I felt betrayed, belittled, and reduced down to a photo op,” she lamented.
Paula Scanlan’s Point of View
Scanlan didn’t hold back either. She mourned what she saw as an eclipse of female athletes’ rights and needs in favor of transgender athletes.
“Any discussion of maintaining the sanctity of women’s spaces is labeled as transphobic, bigoted, and hateful. What’s bigoted and hateful is discrimination against women and girls happening across the country.”
Protests and Dissent
However, outside the hallowed walls of the Blagg-Huey Library, not everyone was in chorus with the sentiments expressed within.
A crowd of over a hundred, armed with signs and chants like “Let them play,” registered their protest.
Students Expressed Concerns and Support
One student, Andy Hackett, voiced his concerns by stating, “Greg Abbott is using our campus as a prop because we are predominantly a women’s university and largely a queer university.”
Blurry Lines of Eligibility
Rylee Valdez, another dissenter, challenged the claim that this law is in defense of women’s sports. “It not only hurts trans women but also women in general.
Who are we to say who is too masculine to play women’s sports?” Valdez questioned, alluding to the blurry lines that might determine eligibility.
Jessica Sommer’s Perspective
Yet, amongst the sea of protesters, supporters like Jessica Sommer, a mother of three athletes, believes that you can’t overlook the differences between biological males and females in sports.
Sommer stressed, “I believe that biologically it’s not apples to apples when a male at birth competes against a female at birth. We should support all voices, pro or con.”
Gender Rights, Sports, and Norms
Gov. Abbott’s appearance at Texas Woman’s University wasn’t just a procedural event but a powerful statement in the ongoing tussle between gender rights, sports, and societal norms.
While the ink on Senate Bill 15 has dried, the conversations it has sparked are far from over.
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The post “Let Them Play” – No, Says Texas as Ban on Transgender Athletes in Women’s Sports Is Signed first appeared on Wealthy Living.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock /lev radin. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.