The bill, title HB 25, was passed in the Texas House by a vote of 76-54 after more than ten hours of emotional debate.
It largely focuses on preventing trans women and girls from participate in women’s sports at schools.
The move puts Texas on track to becoming the state with the largest LGTBQ+ community in the nation to pass such a law.
The new law still needs final approval from the Texas Senate, which has previously approved similar legislation.
Passage there is considered in favor of Republicans in the state, who have supported the bill.
Eight states, all backed by Republican legislatures, have brought legislation targeting transgender athletes into effect, while South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed an executive order similar to those laws in March this year.
However, the Texas bill, House Bill 25, will likely be seen as a crucial blow for local Democrats, given that Texas is home to the second-largest LGBTQ population in the country.
LGBTQ rights supporters gather at the Texas State Capitol to protest state Republican-led efforts to pass legislation that would restrict the participation of transgender student athletes on the first day of the 87th Legislature’s third special session
Texas House passed a HB 25 bill today, barring transgender students from participating in school sports based on their gender identity in a 76-54 vote
In contrast, it also seen as a nationwide starting point for the most aggressive conservative legislation.
Texas Republicans, like their peers in other southern states, noticeably in Alabama, came up with the bill as an effort to protect women’s sports and Title IX, which is the federal law that ensures women and girls equal access to education and scholastic athletics.
Before Thursday’s vote, Texas Republicans admitted they did not know the exact number of transgender athletes that compete in scholastic sports across the state.
‘This is a non-issue,’ Democratic state Rep. Mary González said on the House floor Thursday. ‘We don’t need this bill; in fact, we should be doing the opposite.’
Democrats attempted a last-minute halt to prevent the bill’s passage on Thursday with a series of amendments and arguments on the House floor mentioning such legislation had already had dire effects on transgender and LGBTQ youth across the state.
Following a second special session that saw the passage of controversial voting and abortion laws, Texas lawmakers have convened at the Capitol for a third special session to address more of Republican Gov Greg Abbott’s conservative priorities which include whether transgender student athletes can compete in sports
The Trevor Project, a crisis and suicide prevention non-profit organization, has said calls from LGBTQ Texans have increased 150 percent this year, to more than 11,000.
More than a third of those calls came from young transgender and nonbinary Texans, the group added.
Approval of the bill, LGBTQ youth advocates say, will not only deny trans youth from educational and athletic opportunities, but it will also increase more mental health problems and contemplate suicide.
‘We’re going to have trans youth that, at best, are used to getting bullied by state political leadership, and that at worst aren’t with us anymore, because they’ve seen the hate that these people put against them,’ Andrea Nicolette Segovia, the policy and field coordinator for the Transgender Education Network of Texas, told the Huffington Post.
‘And we’re talking about kids,’ she added. ‘We’re not talking about people who pay their taxes, or have a job, or can vote these people out. We’re talking about kids that don’t have much control over what’s happening over their lives, and, if we’re being honest, are fortunate if they have one supportive person in their life.’
Republican efforts to pass anti-trans legislation have been blocked for the past several years by the Texas House.
In 2017, protests from activists and opposition from major corporations prevented the passage of a so-called ‘bathroom bill’ in the state House. Other anti-trans sports bills’ progress broke down from the House Education Committee three times so far this year.
But the HB 25 bill made it passed a separate committee last week, paving the way for Republicans to vote for its approval Thursday, during yet another lively legislative session.
While Governor Greg Abbott will most likely put ink on the bill once it passes both chambers, that does not necessarily mean that it will go into effect.
Texas Gov Greg Abbott’s conservative priorities this year include redistricting, the distribution of federal COVID-19 relief funds, vaccine mandates and restrictions on whether transgender student athletes can compete in sports
More than 1,500 companies sign letter urging Texas legislation to reject proposed laws that are considered anti-transgender
Last year, a federal judge blocked similar legislation from being into law in Idaho. A federal appeals court granted an appeal to that ruling in May but has not come up with its decision yet.
National and Texas-based civil rights and LGBTQ rights groups are expected to file legal proceeds against HB 25 if it is put into effect, Segovia said.
An open business letter signed by more than 1,500 companies in Texas, including American Airlines, Apple and Amazon, came out against the bill before its passage, as did the WNBA and the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash ― Houston’s men’s and women’s pro soccer teams.
Mayors across the state also urged the Texas legislature to abandon plans for the bill’s passage.
Segovia worried that passage of the bill would only encourage Texas Republicans, and perhaps lead to the revival of a ‘bathroom bill’ that would prohibit transgender people in Texas from using public restrooms that identify best with their gender, or other bills relating to changes on birth certificates that would similarly restrict LGBTQ+ rights.
‘What’s their next step?’ Segovia asked. ‘What is the chain reaction to this, and them feeling like they had success? Where are they going to stop? We just don’t know.’
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.