Story at a glance
- Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) on Wednesday signed into law bills seeking to restrict access to gender-affirming care and bar trans girls from playing on school sports teams aligning with their gender identity.
- Ducey in a signing letter claimed that, despite the bills, transgender people in Arizona will still be treated with dignity and respect.
- Another transgender sports ban in Oklahoma was signed into law on Wednesday.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) on Wednesday signed into law two bills, one which bans transgender girls from playing on school sports teams that match their gender identity and another restricting gender-affirming care for trans and nonbinary minors.
“This legislation is common-sense and narrowly-targeted to address these two specific issues – while ensuring that transgender individuals continue to recieve the same dignity, respect and kindness as every individual in our society,” Ducey wrote in a signing letter.
“Distinguishing between an adult and child in law, as this bill does, is not unique. Throughout law, children are protected from making irreversible decisions, including buying certain products or participating in activities that can have lifelong health implications,” Ducey wrote, using an argument made by other lawmakers in defending similar legislation. A state senator in Idaho this month said consent to gender-affirming care should be subject to the same age restrictions as purchasing cigarettes or alcohol or getting a tattoo.
Ducey in his letter alleged that “many” doctors who perform gender-affirming procedures on adults “agree it is not within the standards of care to perform these procedures on children.”
While the World Professional Association for Transgender Health does not recommend interventions like genital surgery be carried out prior to patients reaching the “legal age of majority,” which in most countries is 18, those standards of care do not apply to other gender-affirming treatments, like puberty blockers or hormone therapies.
Gender-affirming care for transgender and nonbinary minors has been backed by some of the nation’s largest medical associations, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association.
Research has also shown that early gender-affirming interventions can significantly reduce the risk of depression and suicide in transgender and nonbinary youth.
Ducey on Wednesday also signed into law legislation barring transgender girls from playing on school sports teams aligning with their gender identity.
The governor in his letter referred to trans athletes as “biological females” and argued that the new law will level the playing field for cisgender girls and protect them from losing “hard-earned opportunities including their titles, standings and scholarships due to unfair competition.”
According to the Arizona Interscholastic Association, only a handful of transgender athletes compete on school sports teams in the state, and, since 2017, just 16 trans minors have received waivers to play on teams that match their gender identities out of roughly 170,000 student athletes.
Ducey clarified that trans girls will still be eligible to play on school sports teams, just as long as those teams are not designated as “female.” The law is not applicable to sports leagues outside of schools.
“This bill strikes the right balance of respecting all students while still acknowledging that there are inherent biological distinctions that merit separate categories to ensure fairness for all,” Ducey wrote.
Ducey on Wednesday also signed into law a bill outlawing abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Another transgender sports ban, in Oklahoma, was signed into law on Wednesday, and a third, in Utah, was enacted late last week after the state legislature voted to override the governor’s veto.
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