Trio of degrading, unscientific anti-trans sports bans passed by Republicans

Counter-protestors gather to support trans swimmer Lia Thomas at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships

Conservative lawmakers in three states have passed bills that would ban trans students from participating in girls’ and women’s sports teams.

Lawmakers in Arizona, Oklahoma and Kentucky approved three bills that would prohibit trans youth from participating in girls’ sports in the states in a sweeping move on Thursday (24 March).

Arizona’s Republican-controlled House passed Senate Bill 1165 (SB 1165), dubbed the “Save Women’s Sports Act”, with a 31-24 vote, largely along party lines. 

The bill would prohibit trans women and girls from competing on sports teams that affirm their gender identity at publicly-funded K-12 and collegiate schools. It would also apply to “certain private schools” that participate in interscholastic athletic events in Arizona. 

The legislation passed through the state’s Senate in February and is now on governor Doug Ducey’s desk.

During the same session, the Arizona House also passed a separate bill that would limit gender-affirming medical care for trans youth in the state

Ducey, a Republican, has not said whether he would sign either bill, NPR reported. 

The ACLU of Arizona urged Ducey to veto the “discriminatory bill” and said SB 1165 will “rob trans girls of the many benefits school sports can bring to a young person’s life”. 

On the same day, Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma passed a bill also known as the “Save Women’s Sports Act”. 

The Oklahoma Senate approved the bill on a 37-7 vote with Democrat senator JJ Dossett crossing party lines to vote in favour of the legislation, the Oklahoman reported. 

The bill was passed in the House last year and now heads to governor Kevin Stitt’s desk to veto or sign into law. It is expected that the Republican governor will sign it, according to the Associated Press

Human Rights Campaign state legislative director and senior counsel Cathryn Oakley criticised Oklahoma legislators for launching a “full on attack on LGBTQ+ rights and particularly for trans people”

“Their repeated attempts to deny transgender kids opportunity and ostracise members of the LGBTQ+ community are disgusting,” Oakley added. 

She also accused Republican lawmakers of attacking the LGBT+ community to “score political points with extreme elements within their party”. 

Republicans in Kentucky’s Senate passed Senate Bill 83 (SB 83) with a 26-9 vote after it was previously amended and approved by the state’s House earlier this month

The bill would prevent trans kids from playing on girls’ sports teams in grades six through 12, the Louisville Courier Journal reported. It would also apply to trans student-athletes who want to participate on women’s teams in intercollegiate and intramural sports at Kentucky colleges and universities. 

However, the bill does not have any restrictions on trans students who wish to participate in coed, boys or men’s athletic teams in Kentucky. 

Keturah Herron – the Kentucky House’s first openly LGBT+ member – condemned the bill for “discouraging” kids from being involved in sports at school, especially during the “roughest time” for “people growing up” in the state. 

“And I want all of the LGBTQ kids across Kentucky to know that I love them,” Herron said, “I see you, I am you and I stand here today hoping that you see me, that you know that you can be whatever you want to be.” 

SB 83 is now on Democrat governor Andy Beshear’s desk awaiting his signature or veto. 

The ACLU of Kentucky urged Beshear to “veto this hateful, constitutional legislation” and cited the horrific impact the bill would have on trans youth in the state. 

Spokesperson Samuel Crankshaw said the bill is a “solution in search of a non-existent problem” and is ultimately “rooted in hate”. 

“If Senate Bill 83 becomes law, lawmakers will jeopardise our children’s mental health, physical wellbeing and ability to access educational opportunities comparable to their peers,” Crankshaw added. 

All the bills come as lawmakers in Utah overturned governor Spencer Cox’s veto of an anti-trans sports ban on Friday (25 March). The bill will go into effect in July.

Utah is the third state to pass such legislation into law this year, and it’s the 12th state overall to enact a ban on trans kids in school sports.