Lawmakers in Arizona approved two bills on Thursday targeting transgender youth in the state, including one that would restrict access to gender-affirming health care. The measures now will go to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey for his signature.
The state’s Republican-led House approved the health care ban on Thursday by 31-26. The bill had passed the state’s GOP-controlled Senate by 16-12 in February.
“A physician may not provide irreversible gender reassignment surgery to any individual who is under eighteen years of age,” according to SB 1138. The bill makes some exceptions, including in the case of someone born intersex.
If the governor signs the bill, Arizona would be the latest state to enact such a ban. Last year, Republican lawmakers in Arkansas overrode a veto from their governor to put their own health care ban on the books, and Tennessee has passed a similar ban.
Following a trend in other GOP-led states, lawmakers also will send Ducey a bill they call the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” which prohibits transgender athletes from competing on women’s and girls’ teams at all public schools and some private schools.
A spokeswoman for Ducey declined CNN’s request for comment.
The laws are part of a larger movement by conservative lawmakers to impose restrictions on the lives of transgender youth in the US. LGBTQ advocates have strongly opposed the bans, arguing they further marginalize a vulnerable community and could cause serious harm to a group that suffers from uniquely high rates of suicide.
Activists are pushing Ducey to block the health care ban, with Chase Strangio, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, saying on Twitter, “We are mobilizing to get @DougDucey to veto it.” The group sued Arkansas last year to block its ban, and a federal judge temporarily stopped it from going into effect in July.
“Transgender kids do not deserve to be the targets of dehumanizing attacks that invalidate their identity. For transgender young folks for whom this care this medically necessary, this bill could have serious, life-threatening consequences,” Bridget Sharpe, the Arizona state director of the Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights groups, said in a statement.
Some medical groups, including the American Psychiatric Association, have also come out against laws like SB 1138, with the group saying last year that “patients and their physicians, not policymakers, should be the ones to make decisions together about what care is best for them.”
Sports ban also heads to governor
The sports ban, also given final passage by lawmakers in Arizona on Thursday, mirrors others enacted around the country in recent years. It applies to teams “sponsored by a public school or a private school whose students or teams compete against a public school.”
“Athletic teams or sports designated for ‘females,’ ‘women’ or ‘girls’ may not be open to students of the male sex,” the bill says. Though the measure mentions “biological sex,” it doesn’t define what that means. Similar bills in other states have stipulated that “biological sex” is defined as the sex marked on a student’s original birth certificate.
While sex is a category that refers broadly to physiology, a person’s gender is an innate sense of identity. The factors that go into determining the sex listed on a birth certificate may include anatomy, genetics and hormones, and there is broad natural variation in each of these categories. For this reason, critics have said the language of “biological sex,” as used in this legislation, is overly simplistic and misleading.
Advocates of such measures have argued that transgender women and girls have physical advantages over cisgender women and girls in sports. But a 2017 report in the journal Sports Medicine that reviewed several related studies found “no direct or consistent research” that suggests transgender people have an athletic advantage over their cisgender peers, and critics say this legislation adds to the discrimination that trans people face, particularly trans youth.
So far this year, GOP governors in Iowa and South Dakota have signed bills establishing similar bans. Last year, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia enacted similar sports bans, infuriating LGBTQ advocates, who argue lawmakers are seeking to address an issue where there isn’t one.
Earlier this week, GOP governors in Indiana and Utah vetoed bans passed by Republican lawmakers in those states.
CNN’s Hannah Sarisohn contributed to this report.