Arizona legislators vote to limit transathletes and surgeries

The Arizona Legislature passed bills Thursday to prohibit gender reassignment surgery for minors and ban transgender athletes from playing on girls sports teams, joining a growing list of Republican-controlled states attempting to restrict transgender rights as they gain more visibility in culture and society.

Arizona legislators vote to limit transathletes and surgeries

Republican Governor. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has not yet indicated whether he will sign either bill. Two GOP governors this week bucked conservatives and vetoed bills from Indiana and Utah that would have required trans girls to be on boys' sports teams.

Republicans claim that excluding transgender athletes from girls' sports teams will protect women's sport integrity. They also claim that trans athletes would be at an advantage.

Many people point out Lia Thomas, a transgender college swimmer who won an individual title at last week's NCAA Women’s Division I Swimming and Diving Championship.

However, there are very few trans athletes in Arizona schools. According to the Arizona Interscholastic Association, 16 trans athletes have been granted waivers to participate on teams that reflect their gender identity since 2017. This is out of approximately 170,000 high school students in Arizona.

"This bill to me, it is all about biology," said Republican Rep. Shawnna Bolick. She said that she was a member of a coed soccer team in the 1980s but couldn't have made the high-school boys team. "It is unfair to allow biological boys to compete with biological girls in sports," said Shawnna Bolick.

Critics claimed that the legislation dehumanizes trans teens to address an issue that has never been a problem.

Kelli Butler, a Democratic Representative, said that bullying children is something we need to legislate.

Two years ago, there was no law in any state that regulated gender-designated youth sport. Since Idaho legislators passed the first national sports participation law in 2020, the issue has been front and center in Republican-led statehouses. This law, along with one from West Virginia, is currently being blocked by the courts.

Skyler Morrison, a transgender girl aged 13, told lawmakers that the bill was creating a harmful and pointless solution to an inexistent problem. It's clear that this bill is a way to discriminate against transgender women.

Republicans across the country have been drawn to culture war issues, including transgender rights. The vote and debate on the transgender sport legislation occurred the same day that the Arizona House passed an Arizona House ban on abortions after 15 week of pregnancy . During debates on the three bills, Republicans did not say much.

Arizona is one among 20 states that has considered legislation to limit gender-affirming healthcare. Original legislation would have prohibited all such care for minors, but it was reduced to only prohibit irreversible procedures such as gender reassignment surgeries.

Similar legislation was passed in Idaho earlier this month, but it was rejected by the Senate due to concerns about parental rights being restricted.

Arizona bill supporters claimed it would stop children making decisions they later regret. John Kavanagh, Republican Representative, compared the vote with the 2014 unanimous Legislature decision to ban genital and sexual mutilation.

Kavanagh stated, "We should stand the exact same way today because it is mutilation to children." It is irreversible. It is horrible."

Critics suggested that the decision should be made by the parents and their children, as well as the health care team who are caring for them. They claimed that surgery is only done after therapy and extensive care.

"We are talking about our children, who are already taking the appropriate steps with their parents in order to be who and what they are," stated Democratic Rep. Andres Cano.


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