Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has signed bills banning biological men from competing in women’s sports and preventing children under 18 from undergoing gender reassignment surgery.
Wednesday’s signings come as the debate surrounding hot-button LGBT issues in the United States intensifies.
Ducey signed Senate Bill 1138, which “delays any irreversible gender reassignment surgery until the age of 18.” He also signed Senate Bill 1165, which “creates a statewide policy to ensure that biologically female athletes at Arizona public schools, colleges, and universities have a level playing field to compete” Wednesday.
The governor’s signature of both bills follows their passage by the Republican-controlled legislature.
Senate Bill 1138 passed the Arizona Senate in a party-line vote of 16-12 on Feb. 24 and the Arizona House of Representatives on a party-line vote of 31-26 on March 24. Senate Bill 1165 passed both the House and Senate on party-line votes also.
In a letter released Wednesday, the Republican governor described the legislation as “common-sense and narrowly-targeted to address these two specific issues — while ensuring that transgender individuals continue to receive the same dignity, respect and kindness as every individual in our society.”
Ducey characterized Senate Bill 1138 as “simple and common sense,” warning that a gender transition is “a decision that will dramatically affect the rest of an individual’s life, including the ability of that individual to become a biological parent later in life.”
The governor defended Senate Bill 1165 as legislation that “simply ensures that the girls and young women who have dedicated themselves to their sport do not miss out on hard-earned opportunities including their titles, standings and scholarships due to unfair competition.”
He maintained that the 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.”
While both bills were praised by conservative groups and women’s sports advocacy organizations, LGBT advocacy groups condemned the legislation.
In a statement, Equality Arizona warned that “these draconian laws will harm transgender children, adults and their families.”
“Equality Arizona, together with the business community, the LGBTQ+ community, the faith community and all Arizonans who believe in the dignity of all human beings are united in our resolve to not only challenge and repeal these bills but also to win full equality for all LGBTQ+ Arizonans,” the statement reads.
In a statement, Terry Schilling of the conservative group American Principles Project commended the governor for “taking action to defend a fair playing field for female athletes as well as to protect children from being pushed into dangerous and irreversible sex-change procedures.”
“While there is much more that must be done to combat the left’s radical agenda, this is an important start, and we urge other states without such laws to pass them as soon as possible,” Schilling said.
Arizona is not the only state to approve a law prohibiting trans-identified biological males who identify as females from participating in female sporting events this week.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, also a Republican, signed the Save Women’s Sports Act into law at a ceremony featuring female athletes Wednesday.
Stitt claimed biological differences between men and women give biological males an unfair advantage over their biologically female counterparts in sports.
“Men have more muscle mass, their bones are larger and denser, they have larger lungs and wider airways,” he said. “These are physical advantages men have over women on the field, in the pool, on the track or on the court.”
A study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that trans-identified males continue to maintain an advantage over their biological females even after two years of taking feminizing hormones.
The debate about the participation of trans-identified biological males in women’s sports has received renewed attention in recent weeks as University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, who previously competed for years on the men’s swimming team, became a three-time All-American in NCAA women’s swimming this year.
Thomas, who was born Will Thomas and began transitioning through hormone therapy in 2019, finished in first place in the 500-yard freestyle event at the NCAA Division I national championship earlier this month.
According to Save Women’s Sports, an advocacy group that opposes the participation of trans-identified males in women’s sports, 14 states have now passed laws designed to “protect [female] athletes” from unfair competition.
In addition to Arizona and Oklahoma, such bills have been signed into law in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. The Utah state legislature successfully overrode their governor’s veto of a women’s sports bill.
Fewer states have passed legislation banning gender reassignment surgery for minors.
Last year, Arkansas passed a law banning minors from obtaining gender reassignment surgery, puberty-blocking drugs, and cross-sex hormones over the governor’s objection.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Jaime Masters has categorized gender reassignment surgeries for minors as “child abuse” at the request of the state’s Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org