The Arizona House of Representatives just passed a new bill that, if signed into law, would ban transgender female athletes from participating in sports at school. The bill would apply to K-12, community college, and universities’ female teams.
The “Save Women’s Sports Act” was introduced by Republican Rep. Nancy Barto. It would require interscholastic and intramural sports sponsored by educational institutions to explicitly designate sports for males or females based on a persons’ biological sex.
Barto said in a statement to ABC News, “This bill is about fairness. That’s it. What is fair on the field, the court, the track, and in the pool.” In addition, House Bill 2706 states that if disputed, “a student may establish the student’s sex by presenting a signed physician’s statement that indicates the student’s sex” and an analysis of the student’s DNA.
This bill was first introduced on February 3 and passed in the House only one month later after an hours-long debate on Tuesday. Barto cited the biological differences between males and females, including lung capacity, muscle mass, and testosterone levels, which she said give men “an undeniable physical advantage over women in sports.”
“That is why we have separated male and female sports. And that is why women have been so successful in achieving greatness on the field, and all the benefits that go with it,” Barto explained. “What has changed is Interscholastic policies allowing biological males identifying as females to compete on women’s teams.”
Even though Barto and people who voted for the bill say that this is about keeping a level playing field, opponents argue that it fails to protect LGBTQ kids and transgender youth. During the hearing, Democratic Rep. Kirsten Engel said, “The impact will not be to protect women’s sports, instead it’s gonna make women’s sports a total battleground of lawsuits.”
Despite strong opposition from House Democrats and even huge businesses like PayPal and Uber, the measure will now make its way to the Senate.
As it stands now, the Arizona Interscholastic Association has policies in place for transgender athletes to compete “in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity.” The AIA policies and procedures book states that all students eligible to participate in interscholastic athletics should have the opportunity “irrespective of the sex listed on a student’s eligibility for participation in interscholastic athletics or in a gender that does not match the sex at birth.”