Utah has taken the lead among states in 2023 by banning medical procedures aimed at changing the sex of minors.
Governor Spencer Cox, a Republican, signed a bill prohibiting doctors from administering puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or sex change surgeries to individuals below the age of 18.
Gov. Cox said of the bill: “This bill strikes a good balance. More than 90% of parents support Utah schools and so do we. Our top priority this session has been a significant increase in teacher compensation and education funding. We commend the Legislature for supporting our teacher pay proposal which will help address the state’s teacher shortage and give Utah teachers the much-needed pay raise they deserve.”
“We also appreciate that HB 215 gives Utah parents additional options to meet the needs of their families,” Cox went on to say. “School choice works best when we adequately fund public education and we remove unnecessary regulations that burden our public schools and make it difficult for them to succeed. We are especially appreciative of our teachers and education leaders who helped push for more accountability measures which were not included in the original bill.”
The bill cites a lack of adequate evidence to support “gender-affirming” treatments and calls for a systematic review of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and sex change surgeries such as bilateral mastectomies for minors.
Utah state Senator Mike Kennedy, a Republican family doctor sponsoring Utah’s proposal, has said government oversight is necessary for vital healthcare policy related to gender and youth, according to The Associated Press.
“The evidence for whether or not this actually does what we hope it does for these individuals is weak. It’s available, but it’s weak. All I’m asking for is that we be thoughtful about what is a novel treatment before we open this up to whatever anybody wants to do,” Sen. Kennedy told the Health and Human Services Interim Committee.
Cox said in a statement, “We are grateful for Sen. Kennedy’s more nuanced and thoughtful approach to this terribly divisive issue.”
He added, “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.”
The legislation also raises the statute of limitations, enabling people who later regret their decision to sue doctors who allowed them to consent while they were still in a phase of identity development.
The average time for detransition is 4 to 8 years, which often makes it difficult for young people to file malpractice lawsuits against doctors due to the typical 2-year limitation period.
Minors diagnosed with gender dysphoria before the bill takes effect in May 2023 will still have access to hormone therapies if they meet the diagnostic criteria outlined in the bill.
However, clinicians providing hormone treatment to eligible minors will have to undergo “at least 40 hours of education related to transgender health care for minors from an approved organization.”
Providing care without first obtaining the necessary certificate will be considered “unprofessional conduct.”