BREAKING: Human Rights Campaign Condemns Gov. Doug Ducey for Signing Anti-Transgender Bills, Putting the Well-Being of Youth At Risk

by Delphine Luneau

Senate Bill 1138 Bans Some Types of Medical Care For Transgender Youth; Senate Bill 1165 Prevents Transgender Students From Participating in School Sports Consistent With Their Gender Identity

Phoenix, Arizona – Today, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1138, which bans some types of medical care for transgender youth, and Senate Bill 1165, which prevents transgender students from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.

SB 1138 is a cruel and potentially life-threatening bill that would harm transgender youth for whom age-appropriate, gender-affirming care is medically necessary. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the nation’s other leading medical and mental health professionals oppose this legislation, which interferes with their ability to provide best-practice, often life-saving care.

In 2014, then-Governor Jan Brewer vetoed an anti-LGBTQ+ bill in Arizona because she said it divided the state, did not address any specific or present concern for Arizonans, and would lead to adverse legal and economic consequences for the state. She also called for “greater respect and understanding among ALL Arizonans.” Two Republican governors, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox in Utah and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, vetoed anti-trans sports bans similar to SB 1165 last week, rejecting the discriminatory bills approved by their legislatures. The governors cited high suicide rates among transgender youth and concerns over legal challenges, which have followed similar laws in other states.

Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley issued the following statement in reaction to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signing SB 1138 and SB 1165:

“Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona lawmakers are directly responsible for the harm they cause transgender youth by subjecting them to continual intrusive attacks on their dignity and humanity. Other Republican governors have chosen to follow the facts to their logical conclusion – just last week Republican governors in Indiana and Utah vetoed legislation similar to SB 1165, citing concerns over the mental health of transgender kids, the lack of any problem with transgender youth participation in sports, and potential litigation. Gov. Ducey has chosen discrimination over protecting the well-being of vulnerable children. This isn’t leadership, it’s cowardice. The Human Rights Campaign strongly condemns his actions and won’t stop fighting for trans kids across the nation.”

A record number of anti-transgender bills were filed in 2021, largely focused on denying transgender youth the ability to receive gender-affirming care and participate in school athletics programs. Even more anti-transgender legislation is on track to be filed in 2022. There are more than 320 anti-LGBTQ+ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of those, at least 130 directly target transgender people and approximately half of those (70+ bills) would ban trans youth from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.

Politicians are culpable for the harm they cause to LGBTQ+ people’s wellbeing simply by being subjected to continual legislative attacks on their dignity and humanity. There are real consequences to the discrimination perpetrated upon LGBTQ+ people, and particuarly transgender youth. According to a recent analysis, 55% of LGBTQ+ Arizonans reported they’ve suffered from depression in the past two weeks.

In a recent roundtable, parents on transgender youth in Arizona spoke out about the harm these bills have on their children’s mental health and well-being. A recording of the roundtable can be found here.

The latest PRRI data show that support for LGBTQ+ rights is on the rise in Arizona and nationwide: 77% of Arizonans support nondiscrimination protections, and 67% of Arizonans oppose refusal of service on religious grounds. Approximately eight in ten Americans (79%) favor laws that would protect LGBTQ+ people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing. This reflects an 11% increase in the proportion of Americans who support nondiscrimination protections since 2015 (71%).

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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