It’s official: Texas now, by law, prohibits transgender youth from participating in school sports on the team properly aligned with their gender identity.

Texas House Bill 25, passed by lawmakers last fall during their third special session of the year and then gleefully and hatefully signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, went into effect this week, on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

HB 25 is one of the dozens of bills attacking transgender youth that swept through multiple state legislatures in 2021.

Lambda Legal Senior Staff Attorney, Shelly Skeen noted, “HB 25 targets and attempts to further marginalize an already vulnerable student population by denying transgender kids the many benefits and opportunities full and equal participation in interscholastic athletics provides. It not only excludes them from the leadership skills, teamwork, self-esteem, discipline, health benefits and camaraderie that sports offer, it also sets them apart from their peers each day at school, subjecting them to increased bullying and harassment, which is already all too pervasive in our schools.

“No student in our state, or anywhere, should suffer such unfair and unequal treatment simply because of who they are,” Skeen included.

According to the Movement Advancement Project, Texas is now one of 10 states banning trans youth from participating in team sports.

Equality Texas calls the ban “cruel, dehumanizing, and harmful,” and noted that just the debate over the ban alone, characterized by increasingly hateful and false rhetoric, created an increase in bullying, calls to suicide hotlines and physical assaults, not to mention the effect of the actual ban itself.

And the American Psychological Association has registered its opposition to such bans:

“Transgender children vary in athletic ability, just as other youth do. There is no evidence to support claims that allowing transgender student athletes to play on the team that fits their gender identity would affect the nature of the sport or competition.

“A person’s gender identity is how each person perceives and describes their gender. This may or may not be consistent with the sex someone was assigned at birth. Gender identity is central to how children and adolescents perceive themselves. Requiring transgender youth to athletically compete in a manner conforming with their assigned sex at birth is the same as banning them from athletic competition entirely.

“There is ample evidence that an opportunity for adolescents to participate in sports results in positive outcomes, such as better grades, greater homework completion, higher educational and occupational aspirations and improved self-esteem. Transgender youth should have access to the benefits of sports, just as other children do.”

— Tammye Nash