Voice trembling with emotion, State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman on Thursday assured trans children across Arizona of her support and acceptance, a stark contrast to the anti-trans rhetoric created by recent legislation.
“We will always defend you. We will always have your back, and you are welcome and loved for who you are,” she said as LGBTQ rights advocates gathered at the state Capitol on Thursday morning, National Justice Day. visibility trans.
The day before, Governor Doug Ducey had signed bills that would restrict the treatment trans youth could receive and limit the sports teams they could join.
Flanked by signs proclaiming that trans rights are human rights, Hoffman sharply criticized lawmakers, saying there are bigger issues schools need help with than trans kids wanting to play in teams that conform to their gender identity.
“Majority lawmakers have fabricated a crisis to score political points as our classrooms remain underfunded, our class sizes grow as teachers leave the profession and students across the state n don’t have access to school counselors in too many schools… A small number of trans kids wanting to play sports is not a real problem,” she said.
Senate Bill 1165 requires public and private schools to strictly categorize sports teams by biological sex and prohibits transgender female students from playing on female teams that compete with other schools, from elementary school through college . The Arizona Interscholastic Association, which oversees athletic programs at 270 high schools across the state, has received 16 petitions from transgender students since 2017 and has approved just seven.
Hoffman pointed out that similar legislation was opposed last week by the Republican governors of Indiana and Utah, and lamented that Ducey did not follow their lead. The introduction of anti-LGBTQ regulations in schools, she said, was a step backwards from the 1991 “no-promo homo” law which prohibited schools from promoting a “homosexual lifestyle”. “until 2019.
Bridget Sharpe, director of the Arizona chapter of the Human Rights Campaign, which organized the event, added that there is clear precedent in Arizona for blocking anti-LGBTQ legislation by former Governor Jan Brewer, who opposed vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ customers in 2014.
At the event, parents spoke out against Senate Bill 1138, which was also approved by the governor and bars doctors from performing sex reassignment surgery on transgender minors.
Ai Bin Ho said her daughter knows exactly who she is and that legislation preventing her from accessing procedures that could help her affirm her gender identity is government interference.
“Our elected officials are finally telling my daughter that they know her better than she does. Please don’t make me tell her that strangers know her mind and body better than she does,” he said. she declared.
Making the ban a law violates her daughter’s bodily autonomy, she said, and teaches her that outsiders have power over her.
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Kristen Downing argued that both bills are unfair because they do not apply uniformly to the state’s underage population, but specifically punish one group. SB1138 prohibits surgeries for transgender minors, but retains access to the same procedures for minors who seek them for cosmetic reasons. SB1165, she said, allows cisgender (born female) girls to play on women’s sports teams, singling out only transgender girls.
“Underage girls in our state have the option of undergoing breast augmentation or reduction…as long as they are not trans. Parents in our state have the right to make health decisions for and with their children, as long as their children are not trans. Girls in this state have the right to play sports with their friends — as long as they’re not trans,” she said.
In her signature letter, Ducey said the legislation was targeted, while keeping intact the “dignity, respect and kindness” that transgender people should receive. Downing strongly disputed this statement, saying the legislation was clearly discriminatory.
“Governor Ducey and other members of our legislature want to provide…dignity, respect and kindness to everyone in the state, as long as they are not trans,” she said.
Trans teenager Skylar Morrison, who has been an outspoken visitor to the anti-trans bill hearings, sent a statement in support of Thursday’s event. The 14-year-old has been an activist since she was 7, speaking out against similar bills in Texas, where she moved from after anti-trans legislation was passed.
“I want to be safe and be a carefree child, but here I am, fighting for my rights,” she wrote, “7 years and two states later, when will this discrimination against innocent children end? she ? When will lawmakers stop using me to score political points? »
The teenager’s name was brought up during a House debate by Representative Walt Blackman, a Republican from Snowflake, shortly before voting to support SB1138.
The bills go into effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session, but Sharpe warned it won’t come without a fight. While the Human Rights Coalition puts more emphasis on helping elect pro-equality candidates, it said it would not object to being part of court cases against the laws. The coalition is also still focused on passing the Equality Act to help enshrine non-discrimination for the LGBTQ community at the federal level, she said. Similar acts at the state level have failed.