Utah governor Spencer Cox (R.) signed a bill Saturday that prohibits gender transition surgeries and puberty blockers for minors in most cases.
The Transgender Medical Treatments and Procedures Amendments, introduced by state senator and family physician Mike Kennedy (R.), prohibits “permanent and life-altering” gender transition treatments for minors and bans puberty blockers for any patient not already diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
“While not a perfect bill, we are grateful for Sen. Kennedy’s more nuanced and thoughtful approach to this terribly divisive issue,” Cox said in a statement Saturday. “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.”
While Utah is the first state to sign such a bill into law this year, 10 other state legislatures are prioritizing similar bills in the beginning weeks of their 2023 sessions.
“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,” Cox said.
The bill passed the Republican-led Senate and House, with all Democratic representatives opposing the bill. State senators Luz Escamilla (D.) and Jen Plumb (D.) cried as they expressed their opposition to the bill.
“We will continue to work as a commitment of the Senate Democrats to work for good public policy,” Escamilla said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah petitioned the governor to veto the bill, expressing concern about “the damaging and potentially catastrophic effects this law will have on people’s lives and medical care and the grave violations of people’s constitutional rights it will cause.”
“All of our intent is not to harm but to help. All of this is focused on the fact that we are trying to help children and families even though I deeply respect there are many that are not in agreement with that sentiment,” Kennedy said in defense of the bill.