By Nikita Bondale
H.R. 2965, 1993: A new United States policy initiated by the Clinton Administration titled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” made it so that military service members who identified as being part of the LGBTQ+ community could not mention it to other officers. Military members were required to conceal parts of their background and identity with potential negative ramifications if they did not — such as receiving a dishonorable discharge.
H.R. 6520, 2010: Pushed forward by the Obama administration, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law was successfully repealed and servicemembers were freely able to discuss their sexual orientation or gender identity with others. However, this change in the law did not end the long history of discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community.
On March 30, 2022, Republican and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed two bills into law. The first bill made it exceedingly more difficult for minors to have access to gender-affirming health care.
Gender-affirming surgery is a procedure that, as defined by the Cleveland Clinic, “helps people transition to their self-identified gender.” It has been shown that “most people who choose gender affirmation surgeries report improved mental health and quality of life.”
This bill makes it so that gender-affirming surgeries will not be allowed for any individual under the age of 18. However, research has shown that transgender youth who have received this surgery at a younger age reported having decreased rates of suicide and depression, compared to the rest of the transgender population.
For that reason, this bill restricting gender-affirming care to those 18 and older will have devastating results and must be overturned. The passing of this bill will make rates of depression, suicide, and social anxiety increase again and have dangerous, long-lasting psychological effects on an already vulnerable group of young people.
The second bill passed by Governor Ducey further targets and restricts the rights of transgender youth, however, on a more social level. This bill serves to ban transgender girls from participating in women’s sports teams unless they receive a very difficult-to-access waiver from their school district.
This requirement where transgender girls must go through additional steps to play extracurricular sports further emphasizes the idea that they are different and “abnormal” when all they want is to play a sport with members they are comfortable with. The inability to participate in their correctly gendered sport will negatively impact transgender girls—both socially and psychologically.
Many state courts, as well as the United States Supreme Court, have been faced with similar cases in the past regarding transgender rights. Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board (2020) was a case in which a student challenged a school-board decision that required him to use the bathroom of the sex he was assigned at birth.
After hearing the case, lower courts struck down the school statute, ruling in favor of Grimm. The school board appealed but the Supreme Court agreed with the lower courts. The Supreme Court justices upheld the previous ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County (2020) as well which combatted discrimination toward transgender individuals.
Based on the plethora of court precedent as well as the proven detrimental psychological effects on transgender youth, these two Arizona bills must be struck down.