Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, signed legislation Saturday banning both gender-affirming treatments and gender surgeries for minors in the state.
S.B. 16 was sponsored by Republican state Sen. Michael Kennedy in December. Kennedy argued that gender-affirming procedures "lack sufficient research" and called the push for them "radical and dangerous."
The law will outlaw health care providers from conducting "a hormonal transgender treatment to new patients who were not diagnosed with gender dysphoria before a certain date," forbid doctors from "performing sex characteristic surgical procedures on a minor for the purpose of effectuating a sex change," and require that the Utah Department of Health and Human Services "conduct a systematic review of the medical evidence regarding hormonal transgender treatments and provide recommendations to the Legislature."
The bill was contested within the Utah Legislature, where Republican Sen. Daniel Thatcher argued that the bill would outlaw treatments that could save the lives of transgender youth and cited a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics on transgender suicide rates, saying, "We might not understand [gender-affirming health care], we might not like it, but every credible medical organization on the planet says that that is the safest, best, and most appropriate care to save those lives."
Cox said that the Legislature would continue reviewing the science behind and consequences of gender-affirming treatments, stating that "legislation that impacts our most vulnerable youth requires careful consideration and deliberation. 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."
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