On Saturday, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed a bill that prohibits minors from receiving gender-transition health treatment. This is the first of what is expected to be a slew of bills by state lawmakers this year to restrict transgender rights.
Utah is on track to become the first state in 2023 to pass anti-LGBTQ+ legislation with its ban on gender-affirming care.
Legislators should be starting the year trying to better the lives of their constituents — not endanger them.
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) January 27, 2023
The law outlaws the use of hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery for minors in the state, with some exceptions.
Republican Mr. Cox said in a statement that until more research could be done on the long-term effects of these treatments, they should be banned.
While the governor and his staff are aware that their comments will do little to assuage their critics, they are committed to learning more about the science and effects of these surgeries so that they can treat transgender family members with more compassion and respect.
The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all come out against the idea that transgender patients could be harmed by receiving gender-affirming care.
Some medical experts have voiced worry that puberty blockers, one type of this treatment, may have long-term impacts on bone density.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah argued that the state’s new statute ran afoul of the Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection. Legislators and the governor “claim to have concern for Utah’s youngsters” but “ignore the medical experts who care for them, the parents who love them, and the young people themselves,” according to spokesperson Aaron Welcher.
The law that Governor Cox vetoed last year would have prevented transgender students from participating in girls’ sports, and he was one of only two Republican governors to do so. He made reference to the alarmingly high rates of suicide among transgender youngsters and admitted that activists for the community were worried that the law would have a negative impact on transgender children’s emotional well-being.
Mr. Cox said at a press conference to the transgender community after the legislation was passed: “We care about you. Please know how much we care about you. Expect a positive outcome; everything will be fine.
Mr. Cox lauded the bill’s Republican sponsor, Utah State Senator Michael Kennedy, a family practice physician, on Saturday for his remarks at a meeting of the Utah House Health and Human Services Committee last week, where he called the legalization of such treatments “a radical and dangerous push for children to enter this version of health care.”
Along with Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, and Tennessee, Utah recently passed a law limiting the availability of gender-transition services for minors. Because of pending litigation, federal judges in Arkansas and Alabama have temporarily stayed the measures in question.
A year ago, Texas Governor Greg Abbott enacted similar limitations without the support of the state legislature, ordering the state’s health authorities to label gender-affirming health care as “child abuse” and allowing for investigations into families who seek it.
Although the injunction issued by the state supreme court temporarily prevented the governor and attorney general from ordering investigations, it only affected the families who had sued.
More than 150 pieces of legislation restricting transgender people’s rights have been submitted this year by Republican lawmakers in at least 25 states.
There are now over a dozen measures aimed at preventing transgender adolescents from accessing surgical or hormonal treatment for gender dysphoria, the distress caused by the discord between one’s natal sex and one’s gender identity.
Oklahoma and South Carolina legislators have suggested criminalizing all gender-affirming health care for transgender people under the age of 26. Care beyond the age of 21 would be prohibited by proposed legislation in Kansas and Mississippi.