Two month ago, I wrote about how the state of Tennessee was passing a bill that would ban transgender girls from playing sports in a team that matches their gender identities. It was a discouraging development, and unfortunately, the situation for transgender rights is no better in Arizona. The Senate Judiciary Committee has just approved a sports participation law, meaning it is one step closer to becoming real.
Transgender women and girls in Arizona could soon be banned from playing on sports teams that align with their gender expression and identity. The proposed trans sports ban, also known as the "Save Women's Sports Act" or Senate Bill 1165, would prevent trans girls from participating in any school sports, from elementary school through college.
This ban will primarily affect public schools, as private schools are not subject to the same restrictions. However, if private schools find themselves up against public schools in competition, then they will be subject to the same ban.
Indeed, SB 1165 would require any “interscholastic or intramural athletic team or sport” sponsored by a public school, or a private school “whose students or teams compete against a public school,” to divide students into “males, females, or coed teams based on the biological sex of the participating students.”
While opponents of transgender inclusion in sports argue that it is unfair to cisgender athletes, the fact is that the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) has already put policies in place to ensure that all students can participate in a way that is both fair and safe.
According to the AIA, all students are allowed to participate in sports "consistent with their gender identity," regardless of the gender they were assigned at birth. In addition, the AIA guarantees confidentiality in the process of determining eligibility for trans athletes. This ensures that no one will be outed against their will, and that all students can participate in sports without fear of discrimination. Ultimately, the AIA's policies strike a balance between inclusion and fairness, and should be seen as a model.
Deputy director of Equality Arizona, Nicole Cassidy
“I don’t think that we should be further segregating kids who are already alienated and made to feel like they shouldn’t exist,” Nicole Cassidy, deputy director of the LGBTQ advocacy organization Equality Arizona, told the committee. “I think that they should be able to play with other kids.”
Vanessa Ansbach is the mother of a 10-year-old transgender girl. She says that this proposed legislation "harms her [daughter] and kids like her."
“She poses no threat to other girls on her team,” she said. “She’s one of them, just another teammate, unique in her talents and just out there enjoying the camaraderie and friendship that sports provide.”
Senator Warren Peterson (photo by Gage Skidmore)
In response to these arguments, Sen. Warren Peterson, the Republican chairman of the committee, invited trans people to create “a trans league”.
“This bill protects our daughters and our granddaughters,” Peterson said. “It’s absolute lunacy to think that it’s OK to allow a male to dominate in a female sport.”
Seriously? As for him, no doubt he is part of the douchebag league.
It's hard to believe that it has come to this. That Arizona senators are even considering a bill that would ban transgender youth from playing sports. But that is exactly what is happening.
The Senate Judiciary Committee's vote on SB 1165 was a close one, with the final tally coming in at 4-3 in favor of the bill. The next step is for the senators to vote on the bill, and if it passes, it will then go to the House of Representatives. This is where things start to look really tough, as it's unclear if the bill has enough opposition to fail in both houses.
Then, if the bill passes both houses and is signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, it will become law.
Based on what we have seen happening elsewhere, it's possible that this bill could pass, and that would be a real shame.
This discriminatory bill targets transgender students, particularly transgender youth, and would rob them of the opportunity to compete and succeed in the sport they love.
For many transgender girls, playing on a sports team is an important part of their social and emotional development. It can help them build self-confidence and form lasting friendships. If a trans sports ban is approved in Arizona, it could force them to play with the wrong team and lead them towards feelings of isolation.
Transgender children and girls may also feel ostracized by their classmates because they are "different." This is an unfortunate reality for trans youth, as we already know how much bullying takes place in schools across the country.
Passing this bill would only further the discrimination that transgender children face on a daily basis.
In recent months, a number of states have implemented measures to prohibit transgender athletes from playing sports on girls sports teams. These states include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota,Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.
We hope that the legal challenges that were launched in most of these states by organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union will be successful in changing these hateful laws.