Arizona Governor Won’t Say Transgender People Exist | Government and politics
By Bob ChristieAssociated Press
PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Governor Doug Ducey declined to say Thursday whether transgender people really exist, twice dodging direct questions on the subject just a day after signing legislation limiting transgender rights .
The Republican has instead worked to defend his signatures on bills banning transgender girls and women from playing on women’s high school and women’s college sports teams and banning gender-affirming surgery for anyone under 18. years.
When specifically asked if he believes transgender people “really exist,” the governor paused for several seconds before responding.
“I’m going to ask you to read the legislation and see that the legislation we passed was in the spirit of fairness to protect women’s sports in competitive situations,” Ducey said, referring to the new law which targets transgender girls who want to play on women’s sports teams. “That’s what the legislation is supposed to do, and that’s what it does.”
When asked again if he believed there were “real transgender people”, he again answered slowly and carefully.
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“I… will respect everyone, and I will respect everyone’s rights. And I will protect women’s sport. And that’s what the legislation does,” Ducey said.
Ducey’s response has been “appalling,” according to the Arizona director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national civil rights group that advocates for equality for LGBTQ people. The organization has worked to ensure that transgender families and youth come to the Capitol to testify against the bills as the Republican-led House and Senate consider them this session.
“It’s quite shocking that he can’t even address trans people or even say he thinks they exist,” Bridget Sharpe said.
Wednesday’s signing of the two transgender bills and a third that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and is currently unconstitutional puts Ducey right in the middle of the two main issues National Republicans are highlighting ahead of the election. November mid-term.
Ducey also signed election legislation that minority Democrats said amounted to voter suppression by requiring longtime Arizonans to be excluded from voter rolls if they did not prove their citizenship and residency.
The governor directs the Republican Governors Association, which is responsible for helping elect GOP chief executives in US states. He is in the last year of his second term as governor of Arizona and term limits are preventing him from seeking re-election.
The State House’s top Democrat, Rep. Reginald Bolding, called Wednesday “probably one of the darkest days we’ve seen in Arizona history.”
“With the stroke of a pen, Governor Ducey has sent Arizona back to its ugliest past,” Bolding said Wednesday. “And today he put pregnant women at risk, transgender youth at risk, and curtailed the right to vote for people of color.”
Social-conservative groups and the Arizona Republican Party hailed Ducey’s action. The Center for Arizona Policy, whose president led abortion and women’s sports bills through the legislature, called it a victory.
“Thank you, Governor Ducey, for taking a bold stand for women athletes, vulnerable children and unborn children by putting your signature on (the bills) in the face of intense opposition from activists,” said Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy. A press release she posted on Twitter.
She said the legislation protects unborn children, ensures a level playing field for female athletes and shows that “Arizona will do everything possible to protect vulnerable children struggling with gender confusion” by enacting the prohibition of surgery.
Ducey said the surgery ban protects children from irreversible decisions.
“These are permanent reassignment surgeries that are irreversible, and those discussions can take place once you reach adulthood,” he said.
The American Civil Liberties Association has pledged to pursue the ban on surgery. US Supreme Court precedent currently asserts that women have a constitutional right to abortion until around 24 weeks of pregnancy, although it is considering upholding a 15-week ban enacted in Mississippi and could cancel Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision enshrining a woman’s right to choose.
Arizona joins 13 other states in enacting laws preventing transgender girls and women from playing on girls’ teams. Utah Governor Spencer Cox vetoed ban on transgender sports in her state, saying it would harm transgender girls, but the legislature overruled the veto. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb also vetoed a sports billbut the legislators also hopes to rescind its action.
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