Utah’s Republican governor, Spencer Cox, on Saturday signed a law that would prohibit providing hormone therapy or other forms of gender-affirming health care to minors who identify as another gender.
The big picture: Overall, this is part of a growing tide of anti-trans legislation, much of it aimed at young people, and it follows similar measures passed in other states under Republican control.
Details: State Senator Michael Kennedy (R-Alpine), a general practitioner, has proposed Senate Bill 16 to outlaw sex reassignment surgery and puberty blockers for transgender minors.
- A more restrictive version of the bill than the one Kennedy offered last week in the Senate. In the original version of the legislation, puberty inhibitors were banned.
- On Friday, Kennedy predicted that the bill would be challenged in court.
- Before the bill was ultimately approved by the Senate, he expressed concern that he would be spending the remainder of his political career working on it.
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Other initiatives in the state legislature are also aimed at protecting transgender youth’s rights, such as one that would make it illegal for minors to change their gender on official documents like birth certificates.
According to Cox’s statement issued after the law was signed, “While not a perfect bill, we are grateful for Sen. Kennedy’s more nuanced and thoughtful approach to this terribly divisive issue,”
- “More and more experts, states and countries around the world are pausing these permanent and life-altering treatments for new patients until more and better research can help determine the long-term consequences.”
- Moreover, “We will continue to push the Legislature for additional resources to organizations that work to help this important Utah community,” he said.
Yes, but: Respected medical groups like the American Medical Association have expressed concern about the mental health consequences such bans would have on transgender youth, who are already at a heightened risk for suicide.
- More than two-thirds of LGBTQ youth in a survey conducted by the Trevor Project in January 2022 reported negative effects on their mental health as a result of discussions surrounding state laws that specifically target transgender people.
- “We see you and we love your beautiful children,” Senate Minority Leader Luz Escamilla (D-Salt Lake City) said, choking back emotions as she explained her no vote.
- During a press conference on Friday, ACLU of Utah director Brittney Nystrom said the bill is “riddled with numerous constitutional issues,” and urged Cox to veto it.
Utah becomes first state in 2023 to ban gender-affirming care for youth https://t.co/bg1ENvYaWg
— Genspect (@genspect) January 29, 2023
It’s worth mentioning that this bill follows on the heels of a law approved by the state legislature about a year ago that made it illegal for transgender girls to participate in sports teams that correspond with their gender identity.
- The implementation of the law has been put on hold pending a ruling on an appeal to the Utah Supreme Court.
As the 2023 state legislative sessions have begun, legislators have introduced over two dozen bills addressing transgender health care.
- Justice Department officials have expressed concern that “federal constitutional and statutory provisions that protect transgender youth against discrimination” could be breached if young people were denied access to necessary medical care.
- The Department of Justice later filed a lawsuit against Alabama for its ban, which made it illegal to provide transgender minors with certain forms of care to that they would otherwise be entitled to.
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