PHOENIX — The culture war continues against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in state legislatures across the country. There are around a dozen bills in motion in Arizona that target the community.
“I didn’t give birth to my son 14 years ago hoping that he would be discriminated against and not have access to the simple things that I value every day,” said Tucson mother Lizzette Trujillo.
Trujillo's mission in life is simple: create a world where her son has the same opportunities to thrive as his cisgender peers.
“If you can demonize medical care. If you can cause fear in other parents regarding school participation in sports, then you can marginalize these children again," Trujillo said. "History keeps repeating itself.”
Here are several of the bills:
- Senate Bill 1130: (Sponsor: Senator Wendy Rogers): Bans and criminalizes gender-affirming healthcare for Arizonans under 18 years old.
- Senate Bill 1165 (Sponsor: Senator Nancy Barto): Anti-trans sports bill
- House Bill 2112 (Sponsor: Rep. Michelle Udall): Ban on so-called critical race theory education.
- House Bill 2011 (Sponsor: Representative John Kavanaugh): This bill requires written permission by parents for students to join clubs or groups involving gender identity or sexuality.
- House Bill 2292 (Sponsor: Representative John Fillmore) Birth certificates may only utilize male or female gender markers. Fillmore introduced this bill last session but it was stopped on the House floor.
- House Bill 2293 (Sponsor: Representative John Fillmore): This bill states that a public school cannot require superintendents, principals or teachers to use gender pronouns in reference to a student "other than the sex or gender pronoun that corresponds to the sex listed on the student's birth certificate." States the public school cannot penalize staff for refusing to use a student's pronouns.
- House Bill 2294 (Sponsor: Representative John Fillmore): Only allows M or F as an option for gender marker on all state of Arizona documents.
- Senate Bill 1045 (Sponsor: Senator Wendy Rogers): States that private or public-school employees cannot "coerce" students into keeping their identity from their parents or guardians. Also includes a ban on gender-affirming healthcare.
- Senate Bill 1138 (Sponsor: Senator Warren Petersen): This bill bars physicians and providers from providing gender transition surgery to anyone under 18 years old.
Why are these types of bills introduced year after year? "It's a rallying of the base."
Dr. Scott Barclay is the Director of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University and has studied LGBTBQ+ legislation dating back to marriage equality.
"During the 1990s and early 2000s, we saw a lot of state legislators target marriage equality," Barclay said. "They are signaling to their base that they are part of these cultural issues. The bills are the easiest and quickest mechanism to do that."
Barclay says these bills are provocative in nature.
"There is evidence that these [bills] make it weary for people. It has an impact on people moving to the state. It has an impact on people taking jobs in the state. It creates a different look for the state as a whole,” Barclay said.
But the bills often represent a political divide when constituents may not have an issue.
“There’s not a lot of evidence that there is something specific. There are no major national moves except in slowly growing acceptance around trans individuals and the role they play,” Barclay explained.
Behind these bills are human beings fighting to exist
Research has found that gender-affirming health care is linked to better mental health for transgender youth.
A 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality, surveyed more than 27,000 trans people across the country and found those with access to gender-affirming health care throughout life were less likely to experience psychological distress and suicidal thoughts.
“Our kids deserve to live their lives freely, participate in school and have access to public spaces that their peers would have access to,” Trujillo said.
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