AUSTIN (KXAN/Texas Tribune) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law a ban on transgender student-athletes from joining sports teams corresponding to their gender identity.

Abbott approved 18 other bills on Friday in addition to House Bill 25, which mandates public school student-athletes must play on teams that align with the biological sex listed on their birth certificates at the time of their birth.

Republican lawmakers say the legislation is a way to protect cisgender women’s rights under Title IX, a federal law that restricts discrimination on the basis of sex in educational settings. Proponents of HB 25 say transgender girls’ participation on teams made up of mostly cisgender girls would present safety hazards for cisgender girls and prevent them from obtaining athletic scholarships.

“Our constituents expect us to see problems that are coming, and not wait till there’s a disaster till everything falls apart and try to fix it,” the bill’s author, Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring, said earlier this month. “We don’t have to wait till it’s a big problem in Texas.”

Many medical professionals have debunked arguments that transgender athletes who are taking hormones have an advantage, with one study showing people taking hormones did not have a significant performance edge in distance running.

Democrats condemned the bill, saying there are no complaints related to specific transgender athletes, in addition to unknown data about how many transgender student-athletes are even playing in sports in Texas schools.

In debate earlier this month, Democrats explained the harm they believe the law will cause.

“Because the Texas Legislature has been pursuing these bills, 150% increase in suicide has occurred in the LGBTQ community, predominantly of transgendered kids, because their government does not care about them,” State Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Farmers Branch) said.

KXAN’s Maggie Glynn contributed to this report.

Portions of this article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans – and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues