Texas lawmakers wage emotional debate over transgender athletic participation

Lawmakers in the Texas House engaged in hours of emotional debate as they considered legislation mandating participation restrictions for Transgender student-athletes.

"This is about protecting the 332,000 girls 7th through 8th grade playing UIL sports in the state of Texas," said Spring Republican Valerie Swanson.

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Swanson led the special session fight to limit Texas kids undergoing gender transition to competing on athletic teams which correspond to the biological sex listed on their birth certificate.

"No matter how much a biological male takes suppression hormones they still have a tremendous advantage," said Swanson.

While the actual science underlying that claim remains conflicted, Democrats labeled the measure discriminatory, mean-spirited, and a very overt exclusion of a population with an exponentially high rate of suicide.  

"When we say we don't want to create harm do we mean all kids or just some kids? This bill has one target, Trans and intersex youth," said Representative Mary Gonzalez, a Democrat from El Paso.

That claim of "societal rejection" was underscored in powerful fashion by Houston State Representative Ann Johnson who drew on her own experience as a closeted gay youth in an attempt to persuade colleagues.

"I thought as a young child that if I said anything I would not be loved...You have said kids don't know and I'm telling you I knew, kids know. I promise you having this conversation, much less this legislation, will cause harm," said Johnson, a Democrat.

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Barring a successful parliamentary tactic to derail the bill, House Republicans have more than enough support to push the Transgender athlete restriction across the legislative finish line.