Arizona House of Representatives|Photo by Jessica Swarner Arizona House of Representatives|Photo by Jessica Swarner

A bill banning transgender women from playing on school sports teams designated for female students passed the state House in a contentious vote Tuesday. 

A bill banning transgender women from playing on school sports teams passed the House in a 31-29 party line vote after hours of debate Tuesday.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, requires any public school in Arizona to designate its sanctioned sports teams as women’s, men’s, or mixed-sex. 

Anyone, including parents or members of opposing teams, could call an athlete’s sex into question and force them to prove they belong on their chosen team.

Originally, the bill required athletes whose sex was disputed to provide a doctor’s note confirming their sex. The designation would be based on three components: reproductive anatomy, natural levels of testosterone, and genetic makeup. However, the bill passed the House with an amendment striking the first two components and only requiring genetic testing. 

Democrats argued the bill will result in bullying, loss of privacy, and frivolous accusations and lawsuits. Many feared the legislation would have similar economical effects as Senate Bill 1070. After the “show me your papers” bill became law, some sports organizations and artists avoided holding events in Arizona. 

Rep. Andres Cano, D-Tucson, directed the explanation of his “no” vote to a teenager in his district who has been involved in LBGTQ advocacy. 

“I promise to you, as one of your lawmakers, that you and your friends and your classmates … will have a better Legislature one day,” he said. “You will not have to worry about your worth in this world being put to dollars and cents and whether a chamber agrees with you or not.” 

Supporters of the bill believe it will ensure a level playing field for women in sports. Barto has said it will “protect female student-athletes from being forced to compete against biological males.”

But Democratic lawmakers argued the bill is too broad and exposes women to false accusations and humiliation. 

Equality Arizona, one of the advocacy groups that has been protesting the bill, expressed sadness over its passing. 

“This is an extreme infringement in the privacy, civil liberties, and autonomy of Arizona’s trans girls and women,” Equality Arizona said in a tweet after the vote. “We promise to continue fighting for your equitable and fair treatment. Young women don’t quit. Trans women don’t quit.”

The House will now send the bill to the Senate for consideration. The Senate must pass the bill and Gov. Doug Ducey must sign it before it becomes law.