- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed Wednesday bills to bar male-born athletes from female sports and prohibit gender-reassignment surgeries for minors, calling the measures opposed by LGBTQ advocates “common sense legislation.”

The Republican governor signed into law Senate Bill 1138, which prevents those under 18 from undergoing “irreversible gender reassignment surgery,” and Senate Bill 1165, which will “protect participation and fairness for female athletes,” he said.

“This legislation is common-sense and narrowly-targeted to address these two specific issues ⁠— while ensuring that transgender individuals continue to receive the same dignity, respect and kindness as every individual in our society,” Mr. Ducey said in a statement.

The Save Women’s Sports Act, which applies to both secondary and collegiate sports, makes Arizona the 14th state to enact a bill preventing biological males from competing against females.

For women’s sports advocates, it was a banner day: Mr. Ducey signed the bill just hours after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law similar legislation.

“SB 1165 protects athletic opportunities for women and girls and gives them vital legal recourse against unfair policies that arise,” said Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Emilie Kao. “In light of the recent failure of some governors in other states to support meaningful protections for female athletes, we are especially grateful to Gov. Ducey and the Arizona Legislature for enacting this vital legislation.”

Last week, two Republican governors – Indiana’s Eric Holcomb and Utah’s Spencer Cox – vetoed Save Women’s Sports bills. The Utah Legislature immediately overrode the veto, while Indiana legislators are expected to do the same at the May 24 veto session.

K.M. Bell, campaign strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said that the bill “aims to fix a problem that does not exist.”

“Governor Ducey’s decision to sign this harmful and discriminatory piece of legislation into law is nothing more than a political ploy to score points with extremist lawmakers and hateful groups peddling falsehoods and manufactured outrage,” said the ACLU statement.

Arizona also joined at least three states — Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas — with policies restricting access to gender-reassignment procedures for those under 18.

“S.B. 1138 delays any irreversible gender reassignment surgery until the age of 18,” Mr. Ducey said. “The reason is simple, and common sense — this is a decision that will dramatically affect the rest of an individual’s life, including the ability of that individual to become a biological parent later in life.”

The ACLU of Arizona immediately warned of legal action, tweeting: “See you in court, @DougDucey.”

Lambda Legal staff attorney Kell Olson said the bills “will make life harder for transgender kids across Arizona who should have the opportunity to grow up feeling loved and respected for who they are.”

Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles Project, praised Mr. Ducey for signing the bills, saying that they address issues that have “alarmed Americans across the political spectrum.” 

“While our country may be more polarized than ever, here are two issues that most Americans agree on according to almost every poll: Biological males should not be competing in women’s sports. Doctors should not be performing sex-change surgeries on children,” Mr. Schilling said.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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