Arizona Bill Banning Transgender Athletes from Playing Team Sports Moves Forward

Transgender Athletes

  • Bill limiting transgender participation in team sports moves forward in Arizona legislature
  • Bill moved forward thanks to a party-line vote
  • Those in favor of the law say girls born as females are at an unfair disadvantage; those against argue the bill discriminates against transgender athletes

A piece of legislation that would legally bar transgender girls and women from participating in team sports that align with their gender identity has advanced in the Arizona State Legislature.

Republicans on Arizona’s House Health and Human Services Committee voted in favor of the measure in what turned out to be a party-line vote on Thursday. The vote came after two hours of testimony from people on both sides of the divisive issue.

Arguments For and Against New Measure

Those in favor of the legislation argue that it is unfair for girls to have to compete against athletes with male biological traits. Those opposed to the bill argue that the bill will effectively ban transgender girls from playing sports and benefiting from the kills that come with team sports, such as camaraderie, inclusion and teamwork.

On Wednesday, several protestors rallied at the Arizona State Capital in Phoenix prior to meeting with state senators and representatives on LGBTQ equality and acceptance.

The rally was part of an event called Equality Lobby Day. A family that argued that the law would prevent their 6-year-old daughter from playing in team sports was among those that spoke at the event.

Matthew Miller, the girl’s father, said, “A 6-year-old girl is not going to do any different than a 6-year-old boy in sports. As the children grow and take on this transgender lifestyle, their bodies are changing with hormone therapy and treatments. They end up being more physically identifiable with the gender they have in their brain.”

The bill, which has been sponsored by Republican state representative Nancy Barto, would apply to female teams at K-12 schools in the state as well as community colleges and state universities.

Connecticut Lawsuit

Last week in Connecticut, the families of 3 female high school track athletes filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block transgender athletes from participating in sports. The lawsuit was filed on the argument that allowing athletes with male anatomy to compete has deprived the girls of competing for track championships and scholarship opportunities at the next level.

In Connecticut, two transgender sprinters have combined to win 15 girls state championship titles since 2017. The Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference says that its current policy is in line with the state’s anti-discrimination law that dictates that all students must be treated in school as the gender by which they identify.

Attorney Christiana Holcomb, who is representing the families filing the lawsuit, said that “forcing girls to be spectators in their own sports is completely at odds with Title IX, a federal law designed to create equal opportunities for women in education and athletics.”

Both Sides Argue Proposed Arizona Law

The Arizona bill was officially introduced on January 24. The bill is co-sponsored by 22 other Republicans in the state House of Representatives.

The law would make it so that only biological girls and women would be legally allowed to play on all-female teams. A doctor’s note would be required to prove that a person is female if their birth gender is under dispute. The law would also give the green light to other students to pursue legislation if they believe opportunities were missed because of a transgender athlete, which is exactly what we are seeing in Connecticut.

Similar laws have been proposed in Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee, Washington and New Hampshire.

Barto argues that the law is centered around fairness. In a statement, she said, “When this is allowed, it discourages female participation in athletics and, worse, it can result in women and girls being denied crucial educational and financial opportunities.”

Chase Strangio, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, fired back by saying that the proposed law “would bring devastating harms to the transgender community.”

Strangio added, “It is hard to imagine why state legislators have decided to prioritize barring transgender young people from sharing the benefit of secondary school athletics or disrupting medical treatment consistent with prevailing standards of care. But here we are, the start of the session, a time to fight.”

Taylor Smith / Author

Taylor is a sports writer based in Southern California. While he primarily specializes in basketball, baseball and football, he will also dabble in things like soccer and politics from time to time. He has lived in just about every corner of the United States at one point or another, and he has been covering sports and sports betting for the better part of a decade. Taylor currently lives in Long Beach with his fiancé and their two cats.