Arizona Legislators Vote to Prohibit Trans Athlete’s Surgeries

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Arizona Legislators Vote to Prohibit Trans Athlete's Surgeries

This past Thursday, Arizona legislators passed bills prohibiting gender reassignment surgeries for minors and banning trans athletes from playing on female sports teams.

This bill puts Arizona in the same boat as a number of Republican states in an attempt to restrict the rights of transgender athletes as they are finally gaining visibility in society and culture.

As of now, Republican Governor Doug Ducey has not said whether or not he will sign off on the bill. However, two GOP governors in Utah and Indiana decided to buck conservative majorities in their parties when bills were put out requiring transgender girls to play on boy sports teams.

Republicans have noted that the intent of blocking transgender athletes from playing on girl sports teams is to protect the integrity of female sports. They claim that trans athletes would have a competitive advantage over male anatomies.

Many Republicans use Lia Thomas, a transgender collegiate swimmer who, just this past week, won a single title in the NCAA Women’s Division I Swimming and Diving Championship.

However, there are very few trans athletes in Arizona’s school system. According to the Arizona Interscholastic Association, since 2017, only 16 trans athletes out of 170,000 high school athletes in the state were given waivers to play for teams that align with the genders they identify with.

Republican Representative Shawnna Bolick said that this bill to her is “all about biology. “

In the 1980s, Bolick played on a coed team, where she believed there was no way she could have made her high school’s team.

On the other hand, critics of the bills say that they “dehumanize trans youth” simply to address an issue that has yet to arise as a problem in the past.

Democratic Representative Kelli Butler said this bill was legislation that bullied children who are “already struggling to get by.”

No state in the U.S. had passed any laws regarding gender designation in youth sports until about two years ago. Recently, however, the issue came forward in the GOP when lawmakers in Idaho and West Virginia passed bills regarding sports participation.

Republicans throughout the United States are leaning into cultural issues like transgender rights. Just recently, Arizona passed a legislative ban on abortion after 15 weeks. During the debates for these bills, Republicans had very little input.

Arizona is now one of twenty states that have debated legislation that would restrict healthcare to transgender people. While the bill was initially drafted to restrict gender-affirming healthcare for minors, it was eventually adjusted to solely restrict gender reassignment surgeries and other irreversible procedures.

Earlier this past month, the Idaho House passed similar legislation before it died in the senate.

Arizona’s bill supporters said that this bill would prevent minors from going through with permanent decisions that they may regret later down the line. On the other hand, critics of the bill say that the decision should be left to the children, the parents, and the child’s healthcare team, as surgeries are only ever performed after extensive therapy and care.

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