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

On Saturday, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed a bill banning most gender-affirming health care for transgender minors in the state.[0] The bill, which was passed by the Republican-led House and Senate, prevents doctors from providing hormone treatment and surgical procedures for minors seeking gender-affirming care.[1]

The bill, SB216, is the latest in a series of anti-transgender bills targeting minors that have been proposed and passed in states across the U.S. Major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, agree that gender-affirming care is key to improving health outcomes for transgender individuals, especially youth.[2]

“Legislation that impacts our most vulnerable youth requires careful consideration and deliberation,” Cox said in a statement.[3] “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.”[3]

The bill necessitates that the state's Department of Health and Services examine any medical evidence regarding hormonal transgender treatments and supply suggestions to the legislature.[4] It also requires the Division of Professional Licensing to create a certification for providers looking to prescribe hormone therapies.[5] While it does not require the Utah Legislature to revisit the policy after the systematic review is complete, it does ban surgeries on minors that are part of a sex change.[6]

In March 2022, Cox had vetoed a previous bill that would have kept transgender students from participating in girls’ sports, citing “fundamental flaws” in the legislation.[7] Cox's veto was overridden by the Utah legislature later.[6] The ACLU was quick to condemn the bill on Twitter, writing, “Trans kids are kids — they deserve to grow up without constant political attacks on their lives and health care; we will defend that right.”[8]

18 other states are currently considering similar bills prohibiting affirmative health care for trans youth, according to The Hill.[0] Data reveals that a large proportion of transgender people (82%) have thought about taking their own life, while 40% have attempted suicide.[9] Experts say that access to gender-affirming care can be a life-or-death issue for trans youth; the ban supporting anti-LGBTQ sentiments can further affect these numbers.[10]

0. “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/

1. “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/

2. “Utah governor signs bill banning gender-affirming hormone treatment and surgery for minors” CNN, 29 Jan. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/29/us/utah-governor-minors-transgender-care-ban/index.html

3. “Utah Bill Prohibits Transgender Surgery for Minors” Daily Signal, 30 Jan. 2023, https://www.dailysignal.com/2023/01/30/utahs-spencer-cox-signs-bill-protecting-minors-life-altering-transgender-surgery/

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

5. “Utah bans sex-change surgeries on kids, creates new requirements to prescribe hormone drugs” The Christian Post, 30 Jan. 2023, https://www.christianpost.com/news/utah-bans-sex-change-surgeries-on-kids-restricts-hormone-drugs.html

6. “Utah Bans Gender-Affirming Care for Trans Youth” The Cut, 30 Jan. 2023, https://www.thecut.com/2023/01/utah-trans-youth-ban.html

7. “Utah becomes first state to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth in 2023” CBS News, 30 Jan. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/utah-transgender-healthcare-spencer-cox-governor-signs-bill-banning-gender-affirming-care/

8. “LGBTQ advocacy groups to file lawsuit over Utah’s transgender-related surgery law” KSLTV, 30 Jan. 2023, https://ksltv.com/519724/lgbtq-advocacy-groups-to-file-lawsuit-over-utahs-transgender-related-surgery-law

9. “Gender-affirming Care Ban Explained” Spiel Times, 30 Jan. 2023, https://www.spieltimes.com/news/gender-affirming-care-ban-explained/

10. “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