PHOENIX — The Arizona House voted to prohibit gender-reassignment surgery for minors and ban transgender athletes from playing on girls sports teams. Both measures passed on party-line votes. The Republican majority kept its caucus intact.
The bill banning gender-reassignment surgery for minors takes away parental consent, a decision that infuriated Democrats who argued against the bill.
"It's never made lightly," said State Representative Melody Hernandez (D) District 26, "This is not an on-the-whim decision. This is an intimate part of who they are. This is something that should be respected." No Republican chose to speak to the bill.
According to the Arizona Interscholastic Association, which represents 277 high schools and 170,000 student-athletes, there have been 16 appeals requesting a transgender athlete compete in a competition with girls. Eight of those appeals occurred this school year.
Republicans argued the issue is fairness.
"A trans female will play on a [cisgender] female team and have the inherent advantage that testosterone gives people and that's unfair," said State Representative John Kavanagh, (R) Fountain Hills District 23. Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers, whose three daughters were competitive volleyball players, said, "they don't always have to be a gold medalist. But they like to do the best they can in fair competition."
State Representative Pamela Powers Hanley, (D) Tucson District 9 called both bills government overreach on steroids.
In 2020 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark 6-3 decision affirming the prohibition on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil rights Act. Phoenix Pride spokesman Jeremy Helfgot said today's votes in the House are an attempt to, "try and rescind the rights and take people who enjoyed those freedoms and protections and literally try to put them back into the closet."
The bills now go to the governor's desk, but there is no guarantee Governor Ducey will sign them. The legislatures in two Republican-controlled states, Utah and Indiana recently passed laws requiring trans girls to play on boys sports teams. The governors of both states vetoed the bills.