Arizona schools leader urges Gov. Ducey to veto bills on transgender sports, surgery
PHOENIX – Arizona’s top education official is urging Gov. Doug Ducey to veto two bills impacting transgender students that she calls “bigoted government overreach.”
The Arizona House sent the bills, which the Senate passed in February, to Ducey’s desk on Thursday. Republicans, who have a one-seat majority in each chamber, advanced the legislation without any votes from Democrats.
“#SB1138 and #SB1165 are nothing more than bigoted government overreach directed at trans kids and their families,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, a Democrat, tweeted after the House votes.
As @SpencerJCox eloquently wrote in his veto message: "Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few. I don't understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live."
We owe trans kids in AZ the same compassion and respect.
— Kathy Hoffman (@Supt_Hoffman) March 24, 2022
Ducey, a Republican, has not said whether he will sign either bill. Two GOP governors this week bucked conservatives in their party and vetoed bills in Indiana and Utah requiring trans girls to play on boys sports teams.
In her Twitter thread, Hoffman quoted Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, who in his veto message wrote, “Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few. I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live.”
Republicans have said blocking transgender athletes from girls sports teams would protect the integrity of women’s sports, claiming that trans athletes would have an advantage.
Many point to the transgender collegiate swimmer Lia Thomas, who won an individual title at the NCAA Women’s Division I Swimming and Diving Championship last week.
Critics said the legislation dehumanizes trans youth to address an issue that hasn’t been a problem. Since 2017, about 16 trans athletes have received waivers to play on teams that align with their gender identities out of about 170,000 high school athletes in the state, according to the Arizona Interscholastic Association.
Arizona is one of 20 states that have considered legislation to restrict gender-affirming health care. The bill originally would have banned all such care for minors but was scaled back to restrict only irreversible procedures, such as surgeries related to gender reassignment.
Supporters of the Arizona bill said it would prevent children from making permanent decisions that they might later come to regret.
Critics said the decision should be left to parents, their children and the health care team caring for them. They said surgeries are only performed after extensive care and therapy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.