California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced on Thursday that Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana, and Utah would be added to the list of states that California halts state-sponsored travel to due to recent LGBT restriction laws.
Ever since AB 1887 was passed in 2016, California has prohibited state-funded and state-sponsored travel to states with discriminatory LGBT laws on the books. Until Friday, 18 states have had travel bans enacted, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. Many lawsuits by several of the affected states challenging the travel bans have been knocked down in courts across the country, including the Texas lawsuit going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2021 until they finally turned it down.
However, a flood of new laws in the first half of 2022 prompted Bonta to restart the bannings. Specifically, Bonta noted the number of new laws restricting transgender rights in the four states.
“Make no mistake: There is a coordinated, ongoing attack on transgender rights happening right now all across the country,” said Attorney General Bonta on Thursday. “Blanket legislation targeting transgender children is a ‘solution’ in search of a problem. It is detached from reality and directly undermines the well-being of our LGBTQ+ community. During this pride month and all year round, we’re committed to standing up against discrimination in all its forms. California is restricting state-funded travel to Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana, and Utah. As mandated under AB 1887, we’re putting our money where our values are.”
Bonta also went into the details on why each state was added. In March, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed two bills into law. One, Senate Bill 1138, stops all Arizona healthcare professionals and insurance companies from providing and covering gender transition care to those under 18. The other, Senate Bill 1165, prevents transgender women and girls from playing in intramural and interscholastic school sports under their new gender, i.e., men who transitioned into women cannot play in women’s athletic events.
In Indiana and Utah, bills similar to the Arizona transgender sports ban passed by the legislatures of each state over the veto of Governors Eric Holcomb and Spencer Cox respectively. Louisiana also had a similar bill pass, but with no legislative veto.
Due to when the bills were passed, the states bans will go into effect throughout the summer. Indiana and Utah will be effective immediately, with the bans to start on July 1st. Louisiana’s travel ban will begin on August 1st, while Arizona’s doesn’t come into effect until September 28th.
Praise, opposition against Bonta’s addition of four more states to ban list
Many LGBT groups and transgender organizations praised Bonta’s action on Thursday, noting that the state is sticking up for the rights of transgender people and following the law appropriately.
“This just shows once again that, for as crazy as Californian laws can sometimes be, they are, at their heart, still trying to protect the rights of everyone,” explained Alexis Sheridan, a lawyer in San Francisco with many LGBT clients, to the Globe on Thursday. “We’re denying kids playing sports just because they changed genders. That isn’t ok. Some think it gives them an unfair advantage, to to the natural athletic differences, but they aren’t changing just to win or get medals. It’s who they are and they still want to play the sports they love while also be identified by their correct new gender.”
Others, however, have called the bans wrong, as the laws were put into place to stop giving unfair advantages to some athletes.
“This has nothing to do with them changing their sex,” noted legal assistant Rita Stark, who has assisted on cases over transgender athletes in the past, to the Globe. “If you do, fine. That’s great. Even with hormone therapy, they really do bring an advantage over others in women’s sports. So trying to be equal and fair, we’re not being equal and fair. I mean, how do we win?
“And it’s not for every sport either. Many really don’t care about gender and just base it on skill. Look at how many young girls have made it to the Little League World Series or baseball minor leagues. Women have made it to college football and even played in the NHL. The NFL has over a dozen female coaches now, with female MLB coaches now coming on the field. And that’s amazing. They proved they could do the job and broke the glass. But transgender athletes in sports under a certain gender is a different animal, one where being a different gender or having been a different gender can prove to be a big advantage.
“California is overreacting to it. Again, these state laws were put in for equality, and California is saying that equality isn’t equal enough.”
After September 28th, California will have 22 states on the state-sponsored travel ban list, barring others from joining by then.