In a move condemned by transgender advocates, school superintendents in Texas have overwhelmingly approved a change that requires public school officials to use a birth certificate to determine a student athlete’s gender.
‘Transgender groups said the move will force transgender students to amend their birth certificate, a laborious and costly process, in order to play sports’
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Schuyler Bailer, a swimmer for Harvard, is the first openly transgender collegiate athlete.
A referendum ballot submitted to superintendents last month shows they voted 586 to 32 to amend University Interscholastic League (UIL) rules when it comes to transgender athletes.
Transgender groups said the move will force transgender students to amend their birth certificate, a laborious and costly process, in order to play. Chris Mosier, the founder of TransAthlete.com, told the Dallas Morning News the policy would deny transgender athletes an “equal opportunity to sports”.
Photo: D. Clow / Tim Archer / Tom Pennington / Todd Wiseman
The UIL is the state’s governing body for high school sports. Its policy director, Jamey Harrison, told the Dallas Morning News the change codified the advice the league has been giving to superintendents.
“When we were asked by a school for guidance, that was the recommendation we gave them,” Harrison said, “although we told them to work through their own process and own legal counsel as well.”
The amendment will go into effect on 1 August. It does allow other government documents to be used for the purpose of identification if a birth certificate is unavailable.
The Texas Observer first obtained the list of superintendents and their votes.
Texas will become one of seven states that require high school students to provide either a birth certificate, gender-reassignment surgery or documentation of hormone therapy, according to TransAthlete.com, which says states like California and Florida have more inclusive rules.
“At the high school level, we should be encouraging participation for all students,” Mosier said. “Texas school leaders have a responsibility to ensure that transgender athletes can participate in a way that is safe, comfortable and affirming of their identity.”
The NCAA does not have a mandatory policy for transgender athletes, but it did release a list of inclusion recommendations in 2011, stating the issue was “an emerging endeavor” and that “policies may need to be re-evaluated to ensure that they reflect the most current research-based information”.