Bill Banning Trans Athletes Passes Arizona House

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The Arizona House of Representatives has passed a bill that would ban transgender students from participating in girls’ sports. 

The Arizona Republic reports that House Bill 2706 passed Tuesday on a party-line vote, 31-29. The bill would require interscholastic and intramural leagues to designate sports based on what the law calls “biological sex,” meaning they would be open to either male or female athletes. Sports teams designated as “female” would, according to the law, be closed “to students of the male sex.”

A disputed case would be settled by a genetic test.

“Shotputs are heavier for boys. Girls’ basketballs are smaller. It makes a difference,” State Representative Nancy Barto, the bill’s sponsor, told the Republic.

Proponents of the bill said that it was a necessary step to protect girls’ sports. Meanwhile, opponents said that the bill amounted to government overreach, and put up barriers to participation for transgender student-athletes. Both private and public schools would be subject to the legislation, should it be signed into law.

“We’re policing gender,” Charlene Fernandez, the House Minority Leader, told the Republic. “We’re trying to decide if that person is feminine enough or not feminine enough, and we’re using that to justify subjecting our transgender athletes to additional barriers to participating in sports.”

Lawmakers raised additional concerns, including questioning who would be responsible for handling the results of a genetic test should a dispute arise. Others pointed out that the Arizona Interscholastic Association has already adopted policies regarding screening for transgender student-athletes, including requiring that students compile letters of support from parents, a school administrator, and a qualified health professional — then be approved by a committee and the AIA executive board.

More than 200 businesses signed a letter expressing opposition to the bill, including tech companies PayPall and Uber, and the Arizona Diamondbacks MLB franchise.

The legislation now heads to the state Senate.

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