The Texas Senate passed a bill on Thursday that would force transgender athletes at public schools to play sports using the gender listed on their birth certificate—a proposal that could have a big impact since Texas is scheduled to host some major college sports championships in the coming years, and the NCAA’s threatened to pull events from states that aren’t “free of discrimination.”
By an 18-12 vote, the Texas Senate passed SB 29—a bill LGBTQ advocates slam as anti-transgender.
Critics also point out a looming threat if the bill were to become law—the NCAA has vowed to pull championship events from states that enact transgender sports bans.
That would mean major events like the 2023 men’s Final Four in Houston, the 2023 women’s Final Four in Dallas and the 2025 men’s Final Four in San Antonio could be moved elsewhere.
According to the Houston Chronicle, missing out on a Final Four could cost the state $250 million in potential economic impact.
What To Watch For
Houston is set to host the College Football Playoff national championship game in 2024, though the NCAA does not control the scheduling for that event.
The NCAA announced on Monday it would not host championship events in states that have transgender bans on youth sports, which could end up having wide-reaching effects since bills have been introduced in more than 30 states this year, according to the ACLU, and in two cases have already been signed into law by governors—in Mississippi and Tennessee. The flurry of bills have come as part of a Republican response to an executive order signed by President Joe Biden on his first day in office, called “Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation.” The order broadly expanded transgender protections in employment law to schools and other areas of government oversight, but did not create any new guidelines when it came to school sports.
There may be some economic impact from losing a championship game, but the symbolic impact of losing a championship is the biggest hit, according to economics professors who spoke to Forbes. “This is a reputational story,” Smith College professor and Forbes contributor Andrew Zimbalist said.
The NCAA and other major sports organizations like the NBA were among those who pulled events out of North Carolina in 2016 over the controversial “Bathroom Bill.” The state later repealed much of the bill, which was largely viewed as anti-trans.
Texas Senate passes transgender sports bill that critics decry as another ‘bathroom bill’ (The Dallas Morning News)