Utah Governor Signs Bill Banning Gender-Affirming Health Care for Transgender Minors

On Saturday, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed a bill banning gender-affirming health care for transgender minors in the state.[0] The bill, SB16, prohibits doctors from providing hormone treatment to minors who have not been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, as well as preventing sex-characteristic reassignment surgeries on minors. The bill is the latest in a series of anti-trans bills targeting minors that have been passed across the country in the past year.[1]

“Legislation that impacts our most vulnerable youth requires careful consideration and deliberation,” Gov. Cox said in a statement.[2] We appreciate Kennedy's more thorough and judicious handling of this exceptionally contentious matter. A growing number of specialists, states, and countries are presently abstaining from administering these perpetual and life-altering procedures to new patients until further research can be conducted to evaluate their long-term effects. Although the bill is not ideal, it is a start.[3]

The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychiatric Association – all major medical organizations – are in agreement that gender-affirming care is essential for improving the health of transgender people, particularly those who are young. With such care, suicide, depression, anxiety, and substance use rates are dramatically decreased.[4]

The United States Department of Health and Human Services deems gender-affirming care to be of utmost importance to the health and wellbeing of transgender youth.

The bill also requires the state's Department of Health and Services to review “medical evidence regarding hormonal transgender treatments and provide recommendations to the legislature,” as well as the Division of Professional Licensing to create a certification for providers looking to prescribe hormone therapies.[5]

SB16 would implement an indefinite moratorium on hormone therapies for any new transgender patients effective immediately, and places a ban on gender affirmation surgeries for minors. However, it does provide exemptions for minors who are intersex, have experienced early puberty, and are deemed to need treatment for “medically necessary” reasons.[6]

In addition to this bill, 18 other states are currently considering similar bills prohibiting affirmative health care for trans youth.[7] An estimated 58,200 trans youth were at risk of losing access to gender-affirming healthcare as a direct result of Republican-led attempts to ban such treatments, according to a 2022 report by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.[5]

0. “Ban on health care for transgender youth passed by Utah Legislature” Salt Lake Tribune, 27 Jan. 2023, https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2023/01/27/health-care-transgender-youth/

1. “Utah governor signs bill banning gender-affirming hormone treatment and surgery for minors” erienewsnow.com, 29 Jan. 2023, https://www.erienewsnow.com/story/48252461/utah-governor-signs-bill-banning-gender-affirming-hormone-treatment-and-surgery-for-minors

2. “Utah Attacks Trans Rights on Penultimate Day of Sundance” Solzy at the Movies, 29 Jan. 2023, https://www.solzyatthemovies.com/2023/01/29/utah-attacks-trans-rights-on-penultimate-day-of-sundance/

3. “Cox signs school choice, transgender youth bills into law” FOX 13 News Utah, 28 Jan. 2023, https://www.fox13now.com/news/local-news/cox-signs-school-choice-transgender-youth-bills-into-law

4. “Utah Just Became the First State in 2023 to Ban Gender-Affirming Care – Mother Jones” Mother Jones, 29 Jan. 2023, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/01/utah-just-became-the-first-state-of-2023-to-ban-gender-affirming-care

5. “Utah bans heathcare for trans kids” PinkNews, 29 Jan. 2023, https://www.thepinknews.com/2023/01/29/utah-bans-gender-affirming-healthcare-trans/

6. “Utah politicians are chipping away at gender-affirming care for transgender youth” AOL, 29 Jan. 2023, https://www.aol.com/utah-politicians-chipping-away-gender-160026343.html

7. “George Takei Expertly Explains the Ridiculousness of Anti-Trans Law Hitting Utah” We Got This Covered, 30 Jan. 2023, https://wegotthiscovered.com/celebrities/george-takei-expertly-explains-the-ridiculousness-of-anti-trans-law-hitting-utah/