Over half of the anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in Arizona this year have died. Here’s what’s left.

pride capitol

A pride flag hangs over an entrance to the state Capitol. Photo via Arizona Secretary of State.

By Alyssa Bickle

March 4, 2024

Arizona’s 2024 legislative session brought a slew of bills that would limit the freedoms and rights of LGBTQ Arizonans.

Thirteen such bills were introduced—all by Republican legislators—and, while most are either dead or can expect to be vetoed, they send a clear message to Arizona’s LGBTQ community: we do not support you.

Senate Bill 1628, which was passed along party lines in the Arizona Senate on Feb. 22, is labeled by its sponsor as “the Arizona Women’s Bill of Rights.” LGBTQ advocates refer to it instead as an “LGBTQ+ Erasure Act.”

Here’s what the bill, though likely to be vetoed by Gov. Katie Hobbs, would do:

  • Prevent transgender Arizonans from updating their identity documents to reflect their gender identity.
  • Eliminate any mention of gender in state law and replace it with a strict definition of biological sex.
  • Prevent transgender Arizonans from using a single-sex bathroom that is consistent with their gender identity in all government-owned, operated, or funded buildings.
  • Allow transgender people to be housed in places inconsistent with their gender identity, including in prisons, domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and college dormitories.
  • Prevent transgender people from obtaining identity documents that reflect their gender identity, putting them at risk of physical violence or harassment.
  • Put transgender Arizonans at risk of harm by disclosing the sex they were assigned at birth on documents like driver’s licenses, marriage licenses, and school records.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Sine Kerr, R-Buckeye, would put federal funds for schools, domestic violence centers, and rape crisis centers at risk. If one of these establishments housed people in a way that is consistent with their gender identity, for example, their federal funding would be blocked.

Jennifer Braceras, founder of The Independent Women’s Law Center, spoke in support of the bill during a Feb. 13 committee hearing. She told legislators she believed that those who were there in opposition to the bill were seeking to “convince judges and unelected bureaucrats that men who identify as women have an unfettered right to access women’s spaces.”

Braceras said the bill is a tool to stop interpretive overreach; it doesn’t create special rights for women or take rights away from others, but instead sets the terms of the debate for policy discussions about complicated issues related to men and women.

However, the bill is inspired by people who want to erase LGBTQ people, according to Bridget Sharpe, director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Arizona branch. Specifically, the bill would significantly remove transgender and non-binary folks from public life, making “interpretive overreach” an understatement.

Hugo Polanco, who spoke on behalf of the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union in the bill’s committee hearing, said the bill would create confusion and unintended consequences – such as harming same-sex couples and their children. For example, if Arizona code references the terms “mother” and “father” instead of “parent,” those terms could no longer be interpreted to include same-sex couples raising children together.

“This bill does not advance women’s rights, if allowing politicians to define women by their biology was the key to women’s safety and freedom, women would already be safe and free,” Polanco said. “Instead, the very same politicians targeting transgender people are banning abortion and restricting women’s freedom to determine what’s right for their own bodies and lives.”

Requiring detransition care

Senate Bill 1511 would require insurance coverage to approve gender detransition procedures for patients who have already transitioned. Hospitals and doctors would also be on the hook financially; they would be required to either provide or pay for the de-transitioning care of patients who received gender-transitioning procedures and later regretted it.

“It is 100% someone’s choice if they choose to de-transition,” Sharpe said. “Detransitioning is just as much gender-affirming care as is transitioning.”

Detransitioning has been labeled as a process that people cannot go through, which is false, Sharpe said.

SB 1511 is an unnecessary bill that is an excuse to shift the focus from the actual health care that trans folks receive, Sharpe told The Copper Courier, which every single mainstream American medical health organization supports.

Chloe Cole, a 19-year-old activist and detransitioned woman from California who has often appeared alongside conservatives pushing anti-trans narratives, detailed her own experience transitioning, and then detransitioning, at age 16.

She said her doctors who initially helped her through her transition “either turned a blind eye or they felt helpless” when she returned for detransitioning care.

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality’s 2015 US Transgender Survey, only 8% of respondents de-transitioned temporarily or permanently at some point, meaning that they went back to living as the gender they were thought to be at birth for a period of time.

The bill adds an element of monitoring and reporting the procedures that transgender Arizonans receive to the state, Sharpe said, and the same lawmakers that voted to pass the bill through committee have previously shared their disagreements with gender-affirming care.

During the bill’s Feb. 13 committee hearing, Sen. Wadsack, R-Tucson, described her childhood as a tomboy, implying it was similar to being transgender. “If I had been a tomboy in this day and age, they would have changed my gender,” she said.

Centering the narrative around protecting tomboys is a gross mischaracterization of trans and non-binary individuals, Sharpe said.

“We’re talking about someone who would like to live their lives as the gender that they belong in, so I think her [Sen. Wadsack] whittling this issue down to whether someone who is female-presenting is a tomboy or not is dangerous and it’s also kind of insulting, to be honest,” Sharpe said.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Janae Shamp, R-Surprise, was also approved by the state senate on Feb. 22, and will now be debated by the Arizona House of Representatives. If sent to the Governor, it will likely face veto.

Two other anti-LGBTQ bills remain

HB2183: Would require healthcare entities to provide parents and guardians access to minor’s medical records, including for services that do not require parental approval and emergency mental health treatment.

Parental approval is currently not required for: emergency surgery, emergency mental health screenings or treatment, emergency medical decisions made by a parent or someone acting as the child’s guardian, or emergency treatment for drug withdrawal.

Status: Passed by the Arizona House and sent to the Senate for debate

SB1005: Would prohibit public entities from requiring employees to participate in a diversity, equity, and inclusion program or spend public money on said program.

Status: Passed by the Arizona Senate and sent to the House for debate

What didn’t make it

HB2139: Specifies that a minor patient’s medical records are not privileged and confidential and may be disclosed to the minor patient’s parent or guardian under certain circumstances unless the minor patient submits a written notification to the health care provider.

HB2391: This wide-ranging proposal would:

  • Define sex as a person’s sex assigned at birth for purposes of state law and rules
  • Require transgender people to be treated according to their sex assigned at birth for purposes of athletics, prisons, and detention facilities, domestic violence shelters, sexual assault crisis centers, bathrooms, and locker rooms
  • Require ID documents to list a person’s sex assigned at birth
  • Require schools and government agencies that collect data to identify people as male or female based upon sex assigned at birth.

HB2655: Disciplinary action cannot be taken against teachers who decline to use a name, pronoun, or title that is “inconsistent with the student’s biological sex.”

HB2657: Updates Arizona’s parent’s bill of rights to exclude transgender youth from neglect and abuse protections and restrict how schools can teach gender identity and sexual orientation

SB1451: Would make it a class 1 misdemeanor for a health care provider to prescribe hormones or hormone blockers to a minor without written consent of parents; authorizes a cause of action for actual or threatened violation, including against the hospital.  Penalties include up to six months in prison and $2,500 in fines.

SRC 1013: Would have been prevented from using a student’s preferred pronouns or name without first obtaining written parental permission, and prevented trans students from entering spaces inconsistent with their biological sex by requiring schools to strictly monitor bathrooms, locker rooms, multi-occupancy showers, and sleeping quarters on school trips.

Author

  • Alyssa Bickle

    Alyssa Bickle is an affordability and LGBTQ+ reporting intern for The Copper Courier. She expects to graduate in May 2024 with degrees in journalism and political science and a minor in urban and metropolitan studies. She has reported for Cronkite News and The State Press and is an assistant research analyst at ASU’s Center for Latina/os and American Politics Research.

CATEGORIES: LGBTQ POLITICS

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