Texas Governor Greg Abbott celebrated the enactment of the Save Women's Sports Act. The ceremony featured renowned swimmers Riley Gaines and Paula Scanlan.
Abbott signed SB 15 into law in June, which prohibits college athletes from competing on teams that do not match their birth sex, but this Monday, he decided to do a ceremonial signing.
The event was held at the Texas Women's Hall of Fame on the campus of Texas Woman's University and was attended by several legislators in addition to Gaines and Scanlan, two prominent former college swimmers who experienced the discomfort and disadvantage of having a transgender athlete on women's teams.
"Women have thrived under college sports in America (...) They've learned how to hone skills and then translate them into successful careers and families. Those attributes which are byproducts of women's college sports will not be destroyed in the state of Texas," the governor said during the ceremony.
Shortly after that, it was the sportswomen's turn to speak. "It's pretty amazing that this law is even necessary. If you have eyes and a brain and any amount of common sense you can easily comprehend the fact that men on average, and this is a fact, are taller, stronger, are powerful, can jump higher than women. It's biological reality, but unfortunately, we live in such a time where it is somehow controversial to say men and women are different," Gaines said, noting that "by allowing male athletes to displace female athletes in the pool or on the track and field or on that podium, the NCAA and its member colleges intentionally discriminate on the basis of sex."
Meanwhile, Scalan recalled how uncomfortable she felt when she was forced to "accept" Lia Thomas, a transgender student-athlete at the University of Pennsylvania, onto her team. "When my teammates and I tried to voice our concerns to the athletic department, we were told that Lia's swimming was nonnegotiable, and we were offered psychological services to reeducate us into accepting the idea of Thomas competing and undressing beside us. We the women were the problem, not the victims," she said.
Women have thrived under college sports.
They've mastered discipline, spurred drive, & cast visions to achieve greatness.
We won’t allow that to be jeopardized in Texas. pic.twitter.com/P8GcB95c4s
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) August 7, 2023
Basketball player appreciates law
Kassidy Comer, a basketball player at Texas Midwestern State University Texas (MSU), wanted to thank the governor for protecting women's sports. "As someone who has seen the apparent differences in playing with men and women, I cannot express enough gratitude to Governor Abbott and all of the Texas legislature who got this bill passed. Protecting women and girls in sports ensures equal opportunity to excel in the sports that we love. Thank you, Governor Abbott!" she said.
While the event was taking place, a group protested in front of the building, claiming that the new law discriminates against the LGBTQ community. According to reports, the demonstration turned vulgar and violent when protesters began throwing bottles, spitting in other people's faces and even shouting obscenities at minors.
Apparently protecting women’s sports in Texas is so controversial that a crowd spitting and yelling at anyone that exits is necessary. All exits were blocked by the protest. @GregAbbott_TX still did a wonderful thing for women today and I am so appreciative for his hard work. pic.twitter.com/TvGSCsKgw2
— Paula Scanlan (@PaulaYScanlan) August 7, 2023
DISGUSTING: Protestors targeted young girls outside of the signing of the #SaveWomensSports Act in Texas.
Girls, as young as 5, were harassed & called vulgar names, all for joining the celebration of protecting equal athletic opportunity. pic.twitter.com/QdPFpThq6L
— Independent Women's Voice (@IWV) August 7, 2023