By Corinne Murdock |
Following approval by the Arizona House on Thursday, the legislature as a whole passed SB1165, a bill preventing transgender athletes from competing against those of the opposite gender. If the governor signs the legislation into law, it will impact transgender girls and women; males have biological differences to females that give them advantages in sports, and there are many more boys and men competing in girls and women’s sports. However, the legislation doesn’t address women who take testosterone as part of their hormone therapies, which may give them an advantage over their non-doping peers — a concern posed in the case of transgender wrestler Mack Beggs.
State Representative John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) pushed back against arguments against the bill, namely those that claimed individuals would be banned from competing in any sports entirely, or that sports aren’t really about competition but inclusion. Kavanagh cited the recent incident in which the NCAA awarded William Thomas, who goes by the name Lia Thomas and claims to be a woman, the gold medal in one race within their national D1 collegiate swim competition. The state representative argued that the years of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication committed by the women were for naught in the face of Thomas’ robbery.
“This bill allows everybody to participate in sports. It simply says that you have to go on the team that aligns with your biological gender because quite frankly, puberty conveys significant physical advantages on males. And I think it’s very unfair to make biological female athletes compete at that disadvantage. And it recently came to light in the NCAA swimming area. I think that those biological females have been cheated and robbed of a lifetime of effort,” said Kavanagh. “Clearly, there are many good things that come out of school sports besides competition. It’s fun, there’s physical fitness, there’s health. But competition is one of the major things about school sports, and anybody that doubts that might ask themselves, ‘Why are they keeping score?’ if that’s not the case.”
Democrats insisted that males competing in female sports isn’t and won’t be an issue.
State Representative Melody Hernandez (D-Tempe) claimed that transgender women aren’t dominating women’s sports.
“We talked about whether or not this is actually a problem. Trans youth are not coming in and just dominating women’s sports and switching genders because they want to go dominate sports,” said Hernandez.
State Representative Sarah Liguori (D-Phoenix) claimed that Republicans were merely scared of change and due to their ignorance. Liguori cited Harvey Milk, the historic gay rights activist accused of pedophilia and rape.
“We do not need to be afraid. We do not need to be afraid of transgender people, we do not need to be afraid of children,” said Liguori.
Certain Democrats even challenged the idea that males have any physical advantages over females. State Representative Mitzi Epstein (D-Chandler) argued that the males who dominate are merely exceptions to a rule, and that they succeed because of their hard work and discipline — not their biological advantages.
“When we hear of one trans athlete making great success, it is due to the hard work and discipline she applied to her sport,” wrote Epstein. “One example does not mean all trans people are better at sports than cis people.”