Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah signed legislation Saturday banning the use of puberty-blocking hormones on children to begin their chemical transition into transgendered children. Surgeries, such as the removal of breasts of girls and and the castration of boys, would be banned.
A major industry has developed in the transgender field, with doctors growing lucrative practices around these irreversible procedures, most of which are paid for by taxpayers or insurance companies. Utah is the first state in 2023 to enact such a ban, and lawsuits will likely follow from transgender activist groups and their legal teams.
SB 16 sponsor Sen. Michael Kennedy, a family doctor, said he understood the risk of lawsuits and would “bet every dollar that I have in my bank account right now that this will be litigated.”
SB 16 bill passed 20-8, with two Republicans crossing over to vote with all Democrats against the bill. The bill had already made its way to the House, where it was modified from its original version, which had a four-year moratorium on these procedures and surgeries. It came back to the Senate with stronger provisions that place an indefinite moratorium on hormonal treatments for children and teens who have not been treated for gender dysphoria for at least six months. In the House, a provision was also added that will allow a minor to bring a malpractice lawsuit against health care providers who do these treatments if the young person later changes his or her mind, up until the patient is 25 years old.
On the Senate floor, Sen. Kennedy said, “I’m committed to doing my best in this area. I’m afraid that I’m going to be working on this for the rest of my political life. But I’m happy to partner with honest, professional people to try to do justice to this community. Because I have great respect for them and want nothing but the best for the children in all of our state.”
Gov. Cox said S.B. 16 may not be perfect, but it’s thoughtful: “Legislation that impacts our most vulnerable youth requires careful consideration and deliberation. 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.
“We will continue to push the Legislature for additional resources to organizations that work to help this important Utah community. While we understand our words will be of little comfort to those who disagree with us, we sincerely hope that we can treat our transgender families with more love and respect as we work to better understand the science and consequences behind these procedures.”
Another bill is working its way through the Utah Legislature that prohibits the changing of a birth certificate to indicate a non-biological gender designation for a minor. S.B. 93 would prevent people under the age of 18 from being able to have their birth certificate altered to show that they are a different gender than they actually are.