Women's Sport: Arizona lawmakers make move to bar transgender females from competing in women's sport

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Arizona House Committee has approved a bill that would effectively bar transgender females from participating in women’s sports.

The bill has been passed by Arizona lawmakers and will now be considered in the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

If approved, the bill would only allow those assigned as female at birth the right to compete on female athletic teams at state universities, community colleges and K-12 schools.

Fox 10 reports that additionally, female athletes who believe they have missed out on athletic opportunities as a result of transgender athletes being included on teams would be allowed to file legal complaints to seek redress.

The same rule does not apply to transgender males competing in men’s sports sides.

The bill would expect those athletes whose gender identity were called into question to obtain proof from a doctor that proves their gender is female before competing. Doctors would be expected to check the internal and external reproductive organs of the individual as well as their testosterone levels.

The bill has caused an outcry over the fairness and discriminatory nature of the bill with Arizona Democrats leading the discussion. They argue that the bill could prevent transgender females from participating in sports as a whole. They believe that transgender females would feel uncomfortable competing on a cisgender men’s side and could face discrimination and harassment and would give up sports completely.

Rep. Alma Hernandez took issue with the bill, telling Capitol Media Services: “I used to be a tomboy, and there were many girls on that team who easily, or someone could suspect or say, ‘They look this way’ or ‘They don’t look that way.'”

A lawyer for the ACLU, Chase Strangio, has criticised attempts to bar transgender women from competing and spoke out following a lawsuit filed by female athletes in Connecticut.

“The purpose of high school athletics is to support inclusion, build social connection and teamwork, and help all students thrive and grow. Efforts to undermine Title IX by claiming it doesn’t apply to a subset of girls will ultimately hurt all students and compromise the work of ending the long legacy of sex discrimination in sports.”

A dramatic and divisive move countered across the world

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The news that a bill of this sort has even passed through one round of Arizona lawmakers is testament to the divisive nature of the issue. 

It comes in direct opposition to the news from Australia last year that Cricket Australia would be allowing transgender and gender diverse people to play cricket at the highest level.

Cricket Australia held conversations over six months with various stakeholders in the sport to develop new guidelines which encompass both elite and community level cricket. They agreed to open the doors to encourage more diverse gender groups.

The difference in approach is clear, with some sports in other countries seeing this as an opportunity to widen their audiences and increase participation with a policy of inclusivity.

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