Arizona House passes bill to prevent males from competing in female sports

The bill now moves on to the state Senate.

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Arizona state flag and American flag
Arizona state flag and American flag
(Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
Updated: March 4, 2020 - 11:01pm

Arizona’s House of Representatives has approved legislation that aims to protect the integrity of women’s sports by barring biological males who identify as females from competing in athletics specifically designated for women.

The “Save Women’s Sports Act” would require interscholastic and intramural athletic teams and sports sponsored by Arizona educational institutions to be designated for the male sex, the female sex or for both sexes. The legislation specifies that males may not compete on teams or in sports designated for females.

“If disputed, a student may establish the student’s sex by presenting a signed physician’s statement that indicates the student’s sex based on an analysis of the student’s genetic makeup,” the bill states.

The legislation narrowly passed 31-29 in a party-line vote and must now clear the state Senate.

The bill introduced by state Rep. Nancy Barto comes as debate continues to rage nationwide over whether transgender athletes should compete in sports according to their perceived gender identity or according to their biologically determined sex.

“Whether someone is a sports fans or not, most view this as a matter of basic fairness,” Rep. Barto said in a press release about the legislation. “Female student athletes should not be forced to compete in a sport against biological males, who possess inherent physiological advantages. When this is allowed, it discourages female participation in athletics and, worse, it can result in women and girls being denied crucial educational and financial opportunities.”

On the other side of the political aisle, Democratic state Rep. Kirsten Engel decried the passage of the legislation.

"The vote tonight was shameful," she tweeted on Tuesday. "Political points for Republicans at the cost of our most vulnerable kids, our transgender youth. I’m not proud of my State today."

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