James M. Russell
Special to Dallas Voice
The statewide body overseeing high school sports and other extracurricular activities made no decision on three proposals impacting transgender student athletes at their meeting in Round Rock today (Tuesday, June 13).
The committees comprising the University Interscholastic League were slated to consider three proposals with consequences for transgender student athletes. But all three failed to get enough support to pass out of committee.
Another would have been a step forward for the body by aligning its performance enhancing drug policy with the International Olympic Committee’s. The IOC’s standards, which allow transgender athletes to compete, passed in early 2016.
According to the rule, female-to-male athletes will be able to participate in men’s competitions with no restriction. Male-to-female athletes, however, will need to prove their testosterone levels have been below a certain level for the past year to be allowed to compete.
That proposal clarifying trans student athlete participation was initially heard in the athletics committee before being transferred to policy.
“The athletics committee head seemed understanding,” said Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager at Resource Center. “He said he understood this was an issue of equity.”
Two of the proposals, however, would have made it even more difficult for transgender student athletes to participate.
A proposal similar to a bill that was considered by the legislature would have banned any athlete “performance-enhancing drugs,” which would rule out any transgender athlete taking any dosage of hormone replacement therapy. Despite scientific evidence concluding a student who is transition is taking fewer hormones than one who is doping, the proposal has consistently appeared before UIL and elsewhere.
A similar bill by Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, would have done the same thing.
Another would allow any parent to complain to the legislative council about the eligibility of another student. The issue could have an unintended consequence for transgender athletes.
None of the proposals passed. But McDonnell noted a new rule went stating a student athlete’s gender is determined on a student’s birth certificate, not gender identity went into effect this year. So while other discriminatory rules may have been dodged, is that a victory?
“There’s no political will to change these policies. But there may be a political will to keep them as is,” McDonnell said.