(The Center Square) – Arizona Sen. Sine Kerr, R-Buckeye, introduced legislation that she hopes will protect women.
Opponents say the bill would erase Arizona’s LGBT community.
Senate Bill 1628, dubbed “Arizona Women’s Bill of Rights,” gives clear definitions for men and women, boy and girl, as well as mother and father, to make sure it is about one’s biological sex. As a result, the bill would replace “gender” with “sex” in state law.
Kerr said the bill “enshrines truth into law” at a news conference on Tuesday.
Notably, it also adds that settings like public schools need to accommodate single-sex spaces like locker rooms and bathrooms, which need to be kept that way.
“Laws should be based in objective reality and uniform for all Arizonans,” Kerr said in a statement. “Men and boys have been encroaching on girls’ and women’s private spaces, like locker rooms and showers, as well as sports teams, robbing women from athletic opportunities and putting them in danger as they face physically stronger males in competition. SB 1628 supports women and girls in their rights to privacy, fairness, and safety on the playing field.”
The bill is aimed at ensuring transgender individuals, specifically biological men who now identify as transgender women, are not in spaces common in athletics.
“With more than 3.5 million women living in the state, this bill would have an incredible impact in providing scientifically sound protections for women and their personal spaces,” Paula Scanlan, a former swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a statement in support of the bill.
“Having experienced firsthand the injustices of inviting males into women’s private areas and allowing them to steal athletic accolades from young ladies dedicating their lives to their chosen sports, I know the incredible importance of having legislation that stops these reckless new norms,” Scanlan said, noting that she shared a locker room with transgender swimmer Lia Thomas while at UPenn.
Those opposed to Kerr’s bill call it the “LGBTQ+ Erasure Act” because, according to Bridget Sharpe, the Human Rights Campaign’s Arizona lead, it is inspired by people who want to erase LGBTQ+ people – particularly transgender and nonbinary – from public life.
“That’s what would happen if transgender people were no longer able to update their identity documents to reflect their gender identity, if LGBTQ+ people were no longer able to assert claims of discrimination on the basis of sex, and if government owned, operated, or funded buildings begin requiring transgender people to use the wrong single-sex bathroom including in schools, libraries, and the DMV, and to be housed inconsistent with their gender identity including in prisons, domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and college dormitories,” she said.
The HRC contends SB 1628 would “put federal funds for schools, domestic violence centers, and rape crisis centers at risk, and it would harm Arizonans simply trying to live their lives.”
“We don’t need to understand everything about each other to treat each other with dignity and respect, and this bill absolutely does the opposite,” Sharpe said.
For those who are intersex, there is an exception covered for them in the legislation.
“An individual with a congenital and medically verifiable disorder or difference in sex development must be accommodated consistent with federal and state law,” the bill states.
Kerr said she’s “hopeful” the measure will get Democratic support as well. However, if it passes the legislature, it will ultimately need the signature of Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs, who has typically vetoed socially conservative bills.
“The intent is that safe spaces be provided,” Kerr said.
“You know, when it says women’s sports, it pertains to women as defined in the law,” she added.