AUSTIN, Texas - A senate bill focused on transgender athletes advanced out of committee on Tuesday, the first step to becoming law in Texas.
The bill would require transgender athletes to compete based on the gender on their original birth certificate. Supporters of the bill argue it keeps athletes safe from unfair competition while opponents say it unfairly targets the transgender community.
About 20 people testified in Tuesday’s hearing, with most speaking against Senate Bill 3.
"This incessant bullying by the Texas legislature is directly bullying and harming children. We know this, you know this - why are we here?" said Danielle Skidmore.
There was frustration among many who’ve testified in multiple hearings on the issue of transgender athletes. The bill has been brought up in multiple sessions of the Texas Legislature this year. Testimony at some points got contentious.
"You’re just bad people. That’s the only conclusion I can come to at this point. You just keep doing things that are causing kids to want to kill themselves," said Valerie Debill.
According to those against SB3, many people who would’ve testified chose to boycott Tuesday’s hearing after their experiences at previous hearings.
"It’s way too painful for them to be disrespected over and over and over again by being called the wrong pronouns, by making them feel than less than humans," said Susannah Coranza.
Supporters of SB3 argue some transgender students may have an unfair biological advantage if they are allowed to compete outside of the gender assigned to their birth certificates. They believe SB3 promotes "fair and equitable" sports and safety.
"This is about protecting biological girls and women, please vote yes on SB3, please, because when it’s a man against a woman, it’s called assault and battery," said Denise Siebert.
Others say they worry birth certificate changes may be used to cheat the system.
"So literally a 15-year-old male today can determine their gender identity is different than what their biological sex is, make application to a physician, be interviewed, the court can issue an order, that certificate would change and they’d be competing in their non-biological sex at the UIL level," said Sen. Charles Perry (R – Lubbock).
But transgender advocates say these scenarios are imaginary and there have been no documented reports of transgender athletes using such tactics to dominate in competition.
"To assert that somebody would go through that process and swear under oath before a court the information they’re presenting is true and valid just to compete in a sports team is preposterous," said Adri Perez.
The bill passed 5-3 out of committee and now heads to the floor of the Texas Senate.