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Gov. Abbott Visits Denton For Save Women's Sports Act Ceremony, Protest Ensues

The law will go into effect on Sept. 1, 2023
Photo: Office of the Texas Governor

On Aug. 7, 2023, Governor Greg Abbott visited Denton for a formal signing ceremony of a bill that mandates college athletes in the state to participate in sports according to their biological sex. 

Earlier this year, the Texas legislature approved Senate Bill 15, commonly referred to as the Save Women's Sports Act, which is set to become active in September. SB15 builds upon a previous ban enacted during the 2021 legislative session, which prohibits transgender youth from participating in sports activities at public elementary, middle and high schools. 

According to FOX4, Abbott already signed the bill in June but conducted the ceremonial signing on Monday at 2 p.m. at Texas Women's University in Denton. The signing event was attended by NCAA swimmers and representatives of the bill, Riley Gaines and Paula Scanlan, as well as Kassidy Comer, a college basketball player from Midwestern State. 

"This law prohibits biological men from competing on a team whereas an individual against women college sports," Abbott said.

But not everyone at the ceremony was in support of the bill. According to CBS News, chants of  "protect trans lives,” were heard as a multitude of individuals assembled in protest outside the Texas Woman's University. 

"How will they explain to Riley and Paula and to other women how they have been marginalized? They're the ones who went through the training, not the protesters out there,” Abbott said in response to protestors. “They devoted their lives, working harder probably than anybody in this room. Longer days, longer nights, sacrificing so much to achieve a goal, only to have the goal erased by being forced to compete against a man."

Previously in the senate, those opposing the bill voiced that the goal was not to prevent trans athletes from competing but to further the discrimination trans people are already facing.

“Instead of working to create societies that are more tolerant and accepting, we are putting forward more senseless legislation that targets trans people in particular, and discriminates against communities at large,” Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos said at the time. 

Beginning on Sept.1, the legislation will come into force, and the governor pledged commitment to its defense should any legal disputes arise. While private colleges and universities in Texas possess the option to adopt the new state law, adoption of the law is not mandatory.