Beginning Sept. 1, Texas college athletes will be required to compete on sports teams based on the sex they were assigned at birth.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 15, deemed the Save Women’s Sports Act, on June 15.

Under the bill, transgender athletes will be prohibited from joining teams that align with their gender identity. Transgender women will be required to play on men’s teams, and transgender men will play on women’s teams.

The bill applies only to public colleges and universities, meaning private institutions will not have to follow the new rules.

“Women’s sports are being threatened,” Abbott said before signing the bill into law.

Surrounded by current and former college athletes, the governor said it is unfair for transgender women to compete alongside cisgender women.

“[Lawmakers] passed this legislation for those women who stand behind me, as well as so many other women across the entire state of Texas,” Abbott said. “Women in Texas can be assured that the integrity of their sports will be protected.”

Texas already requires transgender K-12 students to join teams based on their sex assigned at birth. Abbott signed that law following a special legislative session in 2021.
Gov. Greg Abbott speaks with supporters after signing Senate Bill 15, which will require public college athletes to compete on sports teams based on the sex they were assigned at birth. (Hannah Norton/Community Impact)
Supporters of SB 15 have said it will level the playing field for female athletes.

“We must act now, or men will win men’s sports, and men will win women’s sports,” said Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring, before the Texas House voted on the bill in May. “Senate Bill 15 is about ... making sure that all athletic competitions for women are safe and fair.”

But LGBTQ+ advocates and other groups have expressed concerns that the bill will isolate transgender athletes.

“Banning transgender students from being able to play sports in public universities as their authentic selves robs them of the benefits of playing sports that their peers enjoy,” said Ash Hall, a policy strategist for the American Civil Liberties of Texas. “This discriminatory law does nothing to help women's sports and could put all college sports in Texas at risk for athletes, fans and businesses by conflicting with NCAA Title IX rules.”

The National Collegiate Athletics Association allows transgender students to compete based on their gender identity as long as they meet sport-specific requirements, including providing documentation of their testosterone levels.

Abbott said Texas universities will be able to choose if they want to compete against out-of-state schools that may have transgender athletes. If a team decides not to compete in a game, it would likely have to forfeit.

According to a list by Outsports, 36 openly transgender athletes have competed or are competing in college sports throughout the past decade. None of the students on the list attended a Texas university while competing.