Two proposals target trans youth in sports, medicine

GOP senator calls for penalties for doctors who offer treatments under age 18

By: - December 27, 2021 6:57 pm
Wendy Rogers

Sen. Wendy Rogers speaking to the Cottonwood Oathkeepers in March 2021. Photo via Twitter/@WendyRogersAZ

Arizona medical professionals who perform gender-affirming surgery or provide hormonal treatment to transgender or gender nonconforming minors would face felony charges and prison time under a proposed law from a northern Arizona legislator.

Sen. Wendy Rogers, R-Flagstaff, proposed Senate Bill 1045 to prohibit medical procedures that affirm the gender identity of children and teens who are transgender. The law would ban medical staff from doing gender affirming surgeries on transgender minors and prescribing testosterone to transgender men or estrogen to transgender women who are under 18. Health professionals would be guilty of a Class 4 felony, with a prison sentence one to three years.

SB1045 would also prohibit a teacher, nurse, counselor or any other school staff from withholding information about a transgender student’s gender identity from the child’s parent.

The proposal could have dangerous consequences, said Ryan Starzyk, a local business owner and board member of Phoenix Pride, which organizes an annual LGBT celebration and parade.

“It is dangerous,” Starzyk said. “It is deadly because if (children) don’t have the foundational information, if they have nobody they can turn and oftentimes is the only one they can turn to is the professional at school before, (the legislature) is laying the foundation for students suicides.”

Rogers couldn’t be reached for comment on the proposal.

Rogers also proposed a measure that has failed in the legislature recently that targets transgender youth.

Senate Bill 1046 would restrict transgender children from participating in sports at public and private schools, community colleges and universities. Just like a failed Republican-led bill did in 2020, Roger’s SB1046 would divide all interscholastic and intramural sports teams into male, female and co-ed teams “based on biological sex.” Under that definition, the measure prohibits transgender girls from participating in girl’s sports. It would also mandate a medical review of a student’s anatomy, hormone levels and genetics if the student’s biological sex is disputed while seeking to participate in sports programs at public and private schools, community colleges and state universities.

There are already rules in Arizona schools to evaluate requests from transgender youth who want to participate in their preferred team.

“All students should have the opportunity to participate in Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the sex listed on a student’s eligibility for participation in interscholastic athletics or in a gender that does not match the sex at birth,” an AIA policy states.

Rogers’ SB1046 is part of a national trend of bills targeting transgender athletes under the notion that female sports are under threat. Research shows transgender students are at higher risk of depression and suicide.

The AIA has said before that girls in school sports are not facing disadvantages because of their transgender peers.

At the end of the last session, on June 30, Rogers introduced the same legislation. That proposal went nowhere.

Starzyk, the business owner, is opposed to SB1046. He said it reminds him of the bullying he constantly faced in the military for being gay.

“The legislators are bullying our youth, the same way I was bullied in the military,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking to see that instead of encouraging our young people who are finding themselves sooner, the legislature is classifying our young future generation as not being good enough.”

Starzyk said youth should be celebrated for affirming their gender identity, instead of being deprived of an important opportunity for growth that sports provide.

“We should be embracing that as a society, to know who you are at such a young age,” Starzyk said. “Years ago you couldn’t even be yourself.”

He added that Rogers has “some radical view of the gay community.”

UPDATE: A previous version of this story misstated the role of Ryan Starzyk with Phoenix Pride. He is a current member of the board of directors, not a former member.

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Laura Gómez
Laura Gómez

Laura Gómez Rodriguez previously covered state politics and immigration for the Arizona Mirror.