Tom Horne, female athletes respond to lawsuit filed by transgender athletes

Tom Horne’s legal team filed their response to a lawsuit challenging an Arizona law.
From left to right: Maria Syms, director of legal services for the defense; Tom Horne, Arizona...
From left to right: Maria Syms, director of legal services for the defense; Tom Horne, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction; Shawna Glazier, former competitive cyclist; Selina Bliss, Arizona House Representative for Legislative District 1; Misha Smith, former swim team captain at University of Arizona.(Arizona's Family)
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 2:33 PM MST|Updated: May. 24, 2023 at 3:44 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne and his legal team have responded to a lawsuit filed by transgender girls over a law that bans them from participating in school sports. The 235-page document used as Horne’s defense references studies conducted by primarily right-leaning and conservative organizations and news articles.

In a press conference held Wednesday morning, Horne laid out that he historically has supported the expansion of LGBTQ civil rights but holds back with regard to transgender athletes. “I feel very deep sympathy for people who feel they were born in the wrong body,” Horne said. “But I also believe that biological males should not compete against females because it’s unfair, and it will ultimately undermine women’s sports, which have benefitted so much under Title IX, and we can lose the whole thing.”

Appearing alongside Horne during the press conference were some women who penned and signed a letter against allowing trans girls and women to compete with biological girls and women, claiming that trans athletes have an unfair advantage. Marshi Smith, a former swim captain at the University of Arizona, said her dream is for her daughters to compete just like she did.

“The reason I’ve been fighting so hard this past year is because of her. Our daughters deserve fair competition; they deserve equal opportunities; they deserve not only a chance to play but a chance to win,” Smith said. “If we continue to have boys and men participate in women’s sports--that can be erased.”

The lawsuit challenging Arizona’s law includes plaintiffs, an 11-year-old who wants to play girls’ soccer, basketball, and cross-country and a 15-year-old volleyball player. In court filings, they are going by the names Jane Doe and Megan Roe. Their attorneys claim the law violates the Equal Protection Clause under the U.S. Constitution and Title IX. “It cannot survive constitutional scrutiny, and it endangers transgender children,” attorney Justin Rassi said in a news release.

In March 2022, then-Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill limiting transgender girls from participating in school sports with cisgender girls.

The full lawsuit and letter are below.