Texas Policy on Transgender Athletes

Over the last couple of years, the importance in protecting the rights of transgendered people has been more relevant than ever. Sport teams and musicians made headlines by pulling out of events that took place in states where gender-neutral bathrooms were prohibited. Former President Obama passed an order that required schools across the nation to allow transgender students to use bathrooms based on the gender that they associate with. Recently, President Trump rescinded the order, causing transgendered people and their supporters to feel unprotected and discriminated against.

Last week, the subject made major headlines again when a transgender boy won a girls wrestling competition. Mack Beggs, a 17 year-old student living in Texas, identifies as a male and wants to wrestle against other boys, but because of a Texas state policy, students must wrestle against the gender listed on their birth certificates. The University Interscholastic League (“UIL”) enacted this policy, known as the “birth certificate policy,” on August 1, 2016. Parents of children affected by the policy have come forward to voice their concerns.

The wrestling match has been deemed controversial, due to the fact that many people believe the testosterone Beggs is taking as he transitions caused an unfair advantage. Jamey Harrison, deputy director of the UIL has stated that the league’s policy has nothing to do with the issues being raised as a result of this wrestling match.

Jim Baudhuin, a local attorney and wrestling parent at a competing high school originally brought a suit against the UIL to have Beggs banned from the girls wrestling match due to the fact that his testosterone intake could cause injury to his opponents. However, Baudhuin has reshaped his position on the conflict. Baudhuin is amending his lawsuit to ask the UIL to follow the same transgender-athlete guidelines that the NCAA follows. The NCAA’s policy allows female athletes transitioning to compete only on men’s teams. Beggs’ case arises at a time where the future protection of transgender students is unclear. Texas has been referred to by the trans-community as being one of seven states to implement discriminatory policies, such as requiring athletes to provide proof of hormone therapy documentation and birth certificates.

Harrison insists that because of the overwhelming support for the birth certificate policy among Texas superintendents, he doesn’t expect these rules to change anytime soon. It will be interesting to see how long the policy can stand for with the influx of lawsuits being brought up on account of this discriminatory issue.

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