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Utah Senate passes transgender youth bills; measures now move to House

Jan 20, 2023, 11:50 AM | Updated: 4:00 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Senate on Friday passed three bills centered on transgender youth and transgender health care, which will now move to the House.

SB16, which passed 21-7, would ban gender-confirming surgeries and place a moratorium on puberty blockers for minors. Gender-affirmation surgeries are medical treatments that transgender and nonbinary people sometimes use to transition or alter their sexual characteristics.

SB100, which passed 22-6, would prohibit school districts from changing the identity of a student’s gender without permission from their parents, and SB93, which passed with a 19-8 vote, prohibits a name change or gender change on a minor’s birth certificate.

House Speaker Brad Wilson told the Deseret News he expects the measures to pass the House with only minor changes.

Gov. Spencer Cox previously told KSL NewsRadio he is not planning to veto SB16, adding the approach is reasonable to put a pause on things while researchers continue looking into the effects of surgeries on minors.

However, Cox said he is concerned about the message the state is sending.

KSL NewsRadio’s Lindsay Aerts reported that Cox said it’s critical lawmakers get to know the people these bills impact if they are going to run this kind of legislation. He said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Michael Kennedy, R-Alpine, has done that work, while other lawmakers have not.

“Potential long-term negative outcomes cannot be ignored. We need to ask ourselves questions such as, ‘can a child appropriately give consent? Does a child completely understand the implications of their choice?’” Kennedy said.

“I know there are a lot of people pushing for this to happen. But the people pushing for it to happen are not those with children it will affect. The people with children this will affect are begging us not to do this,” said Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City.

After the bills passed Friday, Senate Democrats released a statement:

“We are deeply troubled by the Senate’s passage of S.B. 16, S.B. 93, and S.B. 100. As Democrats, we stand in firm opposition to any legislation that restricts access to life-saving health care for our most vulnerable youth. Additionally, we believe everyone should have the ability to amend their birth certificates to accurately display their name and identity without excessive barriers and intrusion from government. All children—including our transgender children—deserve equal opportunity and equal protection in their pursuit happiness. As stated by many elected officials in our state, our children deserve the pursuit of happiness. Like the many parents who courageously came to the Capitol this week to fight against these harmful polices, we will continue to advocate for the dignity and care of all our children.”

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Utah Senate passes transgender youth bills; measures now move to House