Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signs multiple transgender restriction bills

Mar 30, 2022, 12:29 PM | Updated: 7:41 pm

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday signed a pair of bills that restrict transgender surgeries and participation in athletic events.

Senate Bill 1138 restricts gender reassignment surgery until the age of 18, while Senate Bill 1165 bans transgender girls from playing on girls sports teams.

“Today I signed S.B. 1138 and S.B. 1165, legislation to protect participation and fairness for female athletes, and to ensure that individuals undergoing irreversible gender reassignment surgery are of adult age,” Ducey said in a letter directed to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs explaining his decisions.

“This legislation is 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, in the letter, related restricting transgender surgery to protecting children from making other irreversible decisions like buying certain products or participating in activities that can have lifelong health implications.

“These decisions should be made when an individual reaches adulthood,” Ducey said.

Meanwhile, the bill barring transgender girls from playing on girls sports teams does not impact club sports leagues offered outside of school or teams not designated as “female.”

“This legislation 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,” Ducey said.

“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.”

According to the Arizona Interscholastic Association, about 16 trans athletes since 2017 have received waivers to play on teams that align with their gender identities out of about 170,000 high school athletes.

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, a Democrat, last week criticized the bills and urged Ducey to veto them.

Hoffman after the bills were signed tweeted she was deeply disappointed in the decision and “my heart breaks for the families and kids who will suffer because of these laws.”

“We repealed ‘no-promo homo’ three years ago, a bigoted law that took decades to overturn,” the tweet read. “Today, Gov. Doug Ducey sided with extremism, injected politics into our schools, and signed similarly hateful bills.

“How many kids will be harmed because of this legislation? How many kids will suffer until a future, more tolerant Legislature rights these wrongs?”

Representatives from LQBTQ organizations ONE Community and Equality Arizona both said the bills do remarkable harm to children and young people.

“My biggest concern is that the governor has decided to put the most vulnerable members of Arizona’s LGBTQ community at greater risk,” Angela Hughey, president and founder of ONE Community, told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “It is clear that he does not understand that as governor that his duty as the CEO of the state of Arizona is to protect all Arizonans.”

“We know that LGBTQ youth, and in particular trans youth, have a higher rate of suicidal ideation and so we know that these are our most vulnerable kids and we really need to do everything we can to make sure they have the opportunity to thrive as the young people that they are.”

Michael Soto, CEO of Equality Arizona, said the bills “send a very loud message to trans youth, to their families and to all trans Arizonans like me that our lives are not as important, are not valued by the state of Arizona and that we are not worthy of equal treatment under the law and that’s a really hard message to hear.”

“Today we’ve seen our governor rob parents of their rights, show his complete lack of trust in medical professionals and tell transgender youth that they are not worthy of equal treatment under the law,” Soto said. “These three things are going to cause irreparable harm not just to trans Arizonans and our families but also to the state of Arizona.”

Both said thousands of phone calls and letters were previously sent to Ducey asking him to veto the bill, and that they are exploring challenging the “clearly and blatantly discriminatory” legislation in the courts.

Ducey on Wednesday also signed a controversial bill that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Martha Maurer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signs multiple transgender restriction bills