Tyler Pace said it was the testimonies of LGBTQ youth and their families that convinced him to vote against the bill.
A lone Republican Senator voted against his party to block an anti-trans bill in the state of Arizona. The legislation would have banned gender-affirming care for transgender youth but the vote of State Senator Tyler Pace combined with that of three Democrats on the Arizona Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, split the vote 4-4, ensuring the bill failed. Tyler Pace said it was the testimonies of LGBTQ youth and their families that convinced him to vote against the bill. "The testimonies we heard today about the many people who are using these avenues of medical treatments to save lives, to improve lives," he said during the committee hearing, reported NBC News. "I don't want my vote to stop those great things."
Tyler Pace's vote against the party comes at a time when GOP is making sweeping moves across the country to pass restricting health care accessa and legal protections for transgender individuals. According to nonprofit Freedom for All Americans, Republican state lawmakers have filed more than 160 LGBTQ bills in 2021, with over 90 of them targeting trans people. Many advocates have dubbed it the “worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation” in modern history. Arizona alone filed 15 such bills in 2021.
UPDATE: #SB1138 failed, thanks to a single lawmaker (Tyler Pace) who followed his conscience across party lines to vote no.— Civic Engagement Beyond Voting (@AZCEBVus) February 9, 2022
Bill sponsor Nancy Barto made it clear her attack on trans youth will return, but today marks a welcome and undeniable victory. https://t.co/PX3gbBPRCs pic.twitter.com/JGbhO4Ello
Pace's vote virtually put an end to SB 1138, the bill that would have prohibited health care providers from providing gender-affirming care to trans and nonbinary minors. The bill aimed to stop tax dollars from going to facilities that provide hormone therapy, surgeries, and reversible puberty blockers among other services. The testimony featured many emotional parents and kids. “It’s so freaking mean,’’ a tearful parent told the committee, reported AZ Central. “It takes medical decisions out of the hands of parents like me and their informed providers and puts it the hands of government officials,” another parent told the committee. Lizette Trujillo, defended her 14-year-old trans son in her testimony. "When you meet our kids and you see them and you meet our community, a lot of those biases that people carry are dispelled, because we're just families trying to do the right thing," said Lizette Trujillo, who defended her 14-year-old trans son in her testimony. "I think that Senator Pace saw that at that moment."
"When people hear how important gender-affirming care is, and also how normal and safe it is, they can be won over and they can change their mind and make the right call," said Jeanne Woodbury, policy and communications director at LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Arizona. "I think we can keep that going."
This is quite moving. Bravo, sir. 👏🏻 We need more of this compassion in politics. pic.twitter.com/ai31TuPTPr— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) February 22, 2021
While Republicans have been the driving force behind the bills, there has been the occasional officeholder who has gone against the party. Republican Governor Spencer Cox of Utah made headlines last year after breaking into tears as the state legislature considered an anti-transgender bill. As we reported, Cox got emotional after he was asked by reporters if he would sign the bill if the Senate passed it and sent it to his desk to make it a law. "I'm not in a place yet where I'm comfortable with the bill as it stands right now. Those discussions are ongoing. We still have a lot of work to do," said Cox. "These kids are ... they're just trying to stay alive," said Cox, according to a video posted by PBS Utah. "There's a reason none of them are playing sports ... I just think there's a better way. And I hope that there will be enough grace in our state to find a better solution. I don't understand all of this, I don't, but I'm trying to understand more. I'm trying to listen and learn and, again, trying to help kids figure out who they are and to keep them alive." He took a moment to gather himself before saying, "I apologize for getting a little emotional."
"The rights of LGBTQ people — and especially transgender people — across the country are being systematically threatened and undermined by national anti-LGBTQ groups coordinating with anti-equality lawmakers to wage an unprecedented war on the LGBTQ community. In fact, some of these bills are similar to or even worse than anti-LGBTQ legislation that has been rejected in previous years," noted Human Rights Campaign.
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