Under the new law, public school students in K-12 will be required to play on sports teams that match the gender they were assigned on their birth certificate. It will go into effect on Jan. 18.
Republican state Rep. Valoree Swanson, who authored the bill, said she was “overjoyed” Abbott signed it and hailed it as an important step towards protecting female sports teams and women’s rights from biological men who would seek to take advantage of radical transgender policies.
“It’s so very, very important that we protect everything that women have gained in the last 50 years,” Swanson said, according to the Texas Tribune. “We need a statewide level playing field. It’s very important that we, who got elected to be here, protect our girls.”
The Texas Senate passed similar bills earlier this year but the measures failed to make it through the Texas House.
That changed when the legislation was introduced to a different committee, the House Select Committee on Constitutional Rights and Remedies, which is chaired by Republican state Rep. Trent Ashby.
State Democrats introduced 20 different amendments to the bill in an attempt to kill it, but they were ultimately unsuccessful.
However, leftists in the state have already vowed to challenge the new law in court, calling it “wrong” and discriminatory.
If Texans “want to protect children, the goal shouldn’t be to prevent trans kids from participating in sports, but to give all kids the freedom to make friends and play without fearing the kind of discrimination many older trans people face on a daily basis,” Equality Texas, an LGBTQ advocacy group, said in a statement.
Seven other states have introduced laws similar to Texas’s this year, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee, and West Virginia.