“How are we different than other kids?”: A transgender student wrestler fights legislative efforts to restrict participation in school sports

Eli was required to compete on his high school's women's wrestling team in Houston as his gender marker said female.

In this video, a transgender wrestler fights legislative efforts to restrict participation in school sports. Credit: The Texas Tribune

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Texas lawmakers are trying to require transgender student athletes to play on school sports teams aligned with the gender assigned at or near birth. However, the University Interscholastic League that regulates school sports in the state already prevents transgender student athletes from playing on teams based on their gender identity.

Supporters of the legislation say it would protect female athletes and maintain fairness in student athletics. Critics say anti-transgender legislation discriminates against transgender Texas children. This legislation hurts their mental health, LGBTQ advocates say.

This video centers 18-year-old Eli, a transgender man who asked to be identified by his first name only out of fear of harassment and bullying. Eli was required to compete on his high school's women's wrestling team in Houston as his gender marker said female.

Senate Bill 29 sought to limit transgender students' sports participation, but failed to pass earlier this year. Gov. Greg Abbott wants lawmakers to try again during their second special legislative session this summer.

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