State Watch

Republican state senator joins Democrats to block ban on transgender youth health care

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A Republican state senator in Arizona broke with his party over legislation that would have banned gender-affirming treatment for transgender and nonbinary minors.

State Sen. Tyler Pace (R) on Wednesday voted with three Democrats, which split the vote among the state’s Health and Human Services Committee 4-4, effectively axing the legislation.

“The testimonies we heard today about the many people who are using these avenues of medical treatments to save lives, to improve lives, I don’t want my vote to stop those great things,” Pace said during the committee hearing.

Lizette Trujillo testified in front of state lawmakers about SB 1138 in defense of her teenage transgender son and told NBC News that although she was “very surprised” that Pace chose to vote with Democrats, she views his decision as one that was made as a result of hearing the stories of transgender youth.  

“When you meet our kids and you see them and you meet our community, a lot of those biases that people carry are dispelled, because we’re just families trying to do the right thing,” Trujillo said. “I think that Senator Pace saw that in that moment.”

Republican state lawmakers have introduced more than 160 bills this year that would negatively impact the LGBTQ community, 92 of which target transgender people, according to NBC. Arizona state lawmakers have introduced the most anti-LGBTQ bills of any state, at 15 pieces of legislation. 

Arkansas and Tennessee also enacted bills that restricted gender-affirming care into last year. However, a federal judge temporarily blocked the Arkansas legislation in July following a challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union. 

Arizona lawmakers will hear oral arguments Monday on a bill that would criminalize transgender people using bathrooms that match their gender identity, NBC reported. On Wednesday, the state’s House Judiciary Committee will examine a similar bill to SB 1138 that would restrict gender-affirming treatment among transgender youth. 

Tags anti-LGBT discrimination anti-LGBT legislation Arizona gender-affirming care GOP lawmaker

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