UPDATE 5/3: Paans was reportedly benched and will not be competing with the University of Michigan against Texas women this weekend.

Although Texas has a law protecting women’s sports, a man masquerading as a woman will be traveling to a Texas university to compete against women this weekend. 

During the 88th legislative session, Texas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 15—also known as the “Save Women’s Sports Act”—by State Sen. Mayes Middleton (R–Galveston), which bans Texas’ public universities and colleges from allowing biological men to compete against women. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the legislation in August, and the law took effect September 1.

Despite the safeguard, which applies only to intra-state intercollegiate activities, a “transgender” athlete is set to compete in the 2024 National Collegiate Women’s Water Polo Championship held at Texas A&M University this weekend.

One of the teams traveling to Texas to compete is the University of Michigan’s women’s club water polo team, which has a biological male named Alicia Paans—formerly Johnny—on the team. 

According to the University of Michigan’s Instagram page, Paans was named the “Player of the Week” and is a graduate student at the university. The team boasted that Paans is also a state chess champion in the women’s category. 

The first team the University of Michigan will compete against is the Texas State University women’s water polo team.  

Texas Scorecard reached out to Texas A&M about the situation and how they will protect women’s privacy during the tournament. A spokesperson said, “Texas A&M continues to comply with Senate Bill 15, which requires state institutions to limit female team participation to biological females only. However, the law does not address the hosting of competitions for out-of-state teams.”

Incoming Williamson County GOP chair and Round Rock Chapter Chair for the Independent Women’s Network Michelle Evans told Texas Scorecard, “Coaches from Texas universities have an obligation to protect their female athletes and stand up for fairness in women’s sports.”

“The inclusion of ‘Alicia’ Paans in this week’s tournament, taking place on Texas soil, presents an undeniable risk of injury and violates the privacy rights of female competitors,” said Evans. “The Texas coaches should be strong advocates for their student athletes and refuse to allow this adult man to compete against their teams.”

Brady Gray, president of Texas Family Project, also told Texas Scorecard that this instance is just another example of the left’s attacks on women.

“We’re reminded every day of the left’s attacks on truth. On the heels of the Biden administration’s re-writing of Title IX that strips protections from female athletes, we have a grown man who has decided his only way to compete is to do so against women,” said Gray. “If the NCAA cared at all about their female athletes, they would ban men from competing against them and robbing them of opportunities.”

Texas Scorecard reached out to Middleton to see if he plans on extending the protections for female athletes next legislative session, but his office did not respond before publication. 

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.