The Arizona House voted Thursday to prohibit gender-reassignment surgery for minors and was scheduled to vote later on a bill banning transgender athletes from playing on girls sports teams.
Arizona appears poised to join a growing list of Republican-controlled states looking to restrict transgender rights as they gain more visibility in culture and society.
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey 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.
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.
Similar legislation passed the Idaho House earlier this month but it died in the Senate amid concerns from some Republicans about restricting parental rights.
Supporters of the bill said it would prevent children from making permanent decisions that they might later come to regret. Republican Rep. John Kavanagh compared the vote to the Legislature's unanimous decision in years past to ban genital mutilation.
“We should stand the same way today because this is mutilation of children,” Kavanagh said. "It is irreversible. It is horrific.”
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.
“We’re talking about our kids, who are already going to be taking the proper steps with their parents to be able to be who they are,” said Democratic Rep. Andres Cano.
Meanwhile, the Arizona House was nearing a vote on a bill to restrict the participation in girls sports by trans athletes.
GOP supporters said blocking transgender players from girls sports teams would protect the integrity of women’s sports, fearing 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.
Until two years ago, no state had passed a law regulating gender-designated youth sports.
But the issue has become front-and-center in Republican-led statehouses since Idaho lawmakers passed the nation’s first sports participation law in 2020. It’s now blocked in court, along with another in West Virginia.
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