It Has Already Been a Terrible Week for Transgender Texans

Transgender Texans are bearing the brunt of pressure from agencies across the state that seem dead set on preserving whatever amount of legal discrimination they can. Over the course of a week that's just over two days old, transgender teens have found out that they'll like face some of the strictest restrictions in the country to their participation in school sports, and transgender people of all ages have discovered Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick doesn't acknowledge their full existence.

Monday, the University Interscholastic League — the organization that oversees high school sports in Texas — agreed to send a draft of a rule to its member superintendents that would formalize the sports in which Texas teenagers would be allowed to participate. If the superintendents, as expected, approve the rule, trans kids would only be allowed to participate in sports designated for members of the gender listed on their birth certificates. According to data gathered by TransAthlete, Texas' new rules would be among the most restrictive in the country. The state would be the sixth to require a birth certificate for sports participation. In order to get a birth certificate change, transgender individuals have to make a written request and get a court order that is often difficult to obtain.

The NCAA, an organization that wouldn't ever be called progressive, allows athletes to compete with other members of the gender with which they identify. In the organization's transgender inclusion manual, it debunks myths about trans individuals having a potential competitive advantage, regardless of whether or not an athlete has had gender-reassignment surgery or is undergoing hormone therapy.

"Transgender women display a great deal of physical variation, just as there is a great deal of natural variation in physical size and ability among non-transgender women and men. Many people may have a stereotype that all transgender women are unusually tall and have large bones and muscles. But that is not true. A male-to-female transgender woman may be small and slight, even if she is not on hormone blockers or taking estrogen. It is important not to overgeneralize. The assumption that all male-bodied people are taller, stronger and more highly skilled in a sport than all female-bodied people is not accurate," the guide says.

Patrick's statements, released Monday, are even worse than the UIL's rule proposal. As part of a campaign against Houston's HERO anti-discrimination ordinance, Patrick's campaign committee sponsored an ad starring the lieutenant governor. Patrick, mimicking an argument made by enlightened members of the Plano community as they fought their city's equal rights push, claims that HERO is about men who want to use women's restrooms. 
Vote NO on Houston Prop 1

The City of Houston's Prop 1 would allow men into women's locker rooms and bathrooms. This defies common decency! I urge you to vote NO on Houston Prop 1.

Posted by Dan Patrick on Monday, October 19, 2015
"City of Houston Prop 1 is not about equality, that's already the law," Patrick seethes. "It's about allowing men in women's locker rooms and bathrooms."

It should go without saying, but transgender women are not men. It's also already illegal for a member of the opposite gender to use a restroom in Texas for the purposes of causing a disturbance.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young