Arizona Republican lawmakers are pushing a bill to effectively ban transgender girls from interscholastic sports.
A coalition of over 150 businesses is opposing a bill currently being considered by the Arizona state House of Representatives that would impose invasive medical exams on transgender girls who want to play sports.
One Community, a coalition of LGBTQ-friendly Arizona businesses and individuals, announced on Wednesday that the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association, the Arizona School Boards Association, and TechNet had all signed on to a letter in opposition to the bill, along with law firms, restaurants, media companies, resorts, and a yoga studio.
They are all concerned that the bill, H.B. 2706, authored by Republican state Rep. Nancy Barto and co-sponsored by 22 of her GOP colleagues, would effectively prevent transgender girls from participating with interscholastic or intramural girls teams.
If a kid's gender were ever disputed, the bill would require a kid who's gender was disputed to provide a signed physician's statement that "indicates the student's sex based solely on all" of three factors: their "internal and external reproductive anatomy," a measurement of their "endogenously produced levels of testosterone," and an "analysis" of their genetic makeup.
The bill, which stipulates that "athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls may not be open to students of the male sex," would block a student from participating who couldn't provide a physician's statement meeting the strict criteria.
Barto named the bill the "Save Women's Sports Act." A national anti-trans group has been pushing similar bills in other states.
"Science is what it is," Barto told a local newspaper earlier this month. "The difference between males and females is obvious."
But one parent disputed this during a legislative hearing earlier this month. She noted that many trans kids who transition before puberty, including her own daughter, do not produce the male hormones that could provide an athletic advantage and others take hormone-suppressing drugs.
"Gender is far more complex than our genitals," she told the lawmakers.
The ACLU of Arizona opposes the bill and warned on Monday: "AZ's #HB2706 would subject girl athletes to invasive examinations such as: -a physical exam of the child’s genitals, -a blood test, -and genetic testing".
"Girls should not be subjected to ANY of these over-the-top invasive medical exams in order for them to play sports," the ACLU said.
Still, the House Rules Committee voted on Wednesday to send the bill to the full House.
But Arizona businesses have reason to worry about the bill's impact if it does beyond how much it would harm student athletes.
In 2014, the GOP-controlled legislature passed S.B. 1062, a bill which would have allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people as long as they cited religious beliefs. Amid threats of an economic boycott of Arizona, then-Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, vetoed the bill.
Since that time, boycotts of other states over their new anti-LGBTQ laws have caused significant economic impact. After North Carolina passed its infamous "bathroom bill" in 2016, the state lost tens of millions of dollars in business. One 2017 analysis before that law's partial repeal predicted more than $3.76 billion in lost business for North Carolina over a dozen years.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.