Utah has become the first state in 2023 to ban gender-affirming care for minors as Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed a bill Saturday to restrict their access to puberty blockers, hormones and surgical procedures.
Cox said in a statement announcing his signature that legislation that affects minors necessitates “careful consideration and deliberation.” He said the bill is not perfect but is a “more nuanced and thoughtful approach” to a “terribly divisive” issue.
Cox said states and countries are pausing gender-affirming care for new patients until additional and improved research can be conducted to determine the “long-term consequences” of receiving this type of care.
Lawmakers in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona and Tennessee have all approved measures restricting gender-affirming care in recent years, and lawmakers in more than two dozen states have introduced legislation to ban youth access to care.
Cox said his administration will continue to push the state legislature to provide 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,” he said.
The law will prohibit doctors from conducting surgical procedures on a minor “for the purpose of effectuating a sex change.”
It also will require medical providers, starting July 1, to consider whether alternative medical treatments to gender-affirming care would provide a minor with the “best long-term outcome.” It will also require them to identify and document any physical or mental health condition and consider if treating those conditions before providing the care will give them the best outcome.
Starting Jan. 1 of next year, the law will consider providing hormonal treatment to a transgender youth without a proper certification to be “unprofessional conduct.” Doctors will be able to receive the certification after completing 40 hours of “education” related to transgender health care from an approved organization.
The LGBTQ Victory Institute, which works to increase LGBTQ representation in government, condemned the ban in a release. They said it is a “symptom” of gaps in LGBTQ representation in government.
Utah has one openly LGBTQ state lawmaker.
(c) 2023, The Hill