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Utah bans transgender surgery for minors, places hold on hormone drugs

(Image credit: ADragan/Shutterstock)

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 31, 2023 / 11:50 am (CNA).

Transgender surgery for minors is now prohibited in Utah and the prescription of transgender medicine for minors has temporarily been placed on hold under new legislation signed into law by Gov. Spencer Cox.

Under the measure, referred to as Senate Bill 16, doctors in Utah cannot perform surgeries that remove male reproductive organs on boys or female reproductive organs on girls unless the patients are at least 18 years old. They cannot perform surgery to change those organs to make them resemble the organs of the opposite sex. The legislation also prohibits other surgeries, such as the removal of the breasts on girls or chest surgery on boys to make them resemble girls. Facial surgery that is intended to make one’s face appear more similar to the opposite sex will also be prohibited for minors.

The legislation puts a temporary halt on prescribing gender transition drugs to minors, but the moratorium does not outright ban them for good. Instead, it directs the state Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a review of these medicines and provide recommendations to the Legislature. At that point, lawmakers will decide whether they want to make the prohibition permanent or lift it. These drugs include puberty blockers as well as estrogen used to feminize a boy or testosterone used to masculinize a girl.

The bill includes exemptions for individuals who are born intersex, such as those whose sex is ambiguous at birth or those born with both male and female body parts. It also includes an exception for surgery or drugs when they are medically necessary and are not done as an attempt to change the child’s gender.

In a statement after signing the bill, Cox said the legislation was a “nuanced and thoughtful approach to this terribly divisive issue” and any bill “that impacts our most vulnerable youth requires careful consideration and deliberation.”

“We will continue to push the Legislature for additional resources to organizations that work to help this important Utah community,” Cox continued. “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.”

State Rep. Katy Hall, who sponsored the bill in the House, told CNA that the final bill was the result of several months of conversations with stakeholders on how to best protect the health of children. Sen. Michael Kennedy, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, could not be reached for comment.

“I am thankful to Sen. Kennedy and many other colleagues in the Utah House of Representatives who stood with me to push back on a radical agenda to perform novel and irreversible transgender surgeries on minors,” Hall said. “We can’t allow social policy to outpace science, especially when the scientific evidence is still emerging and lacking in consensus. I hope we can continue working together to provide our struggling children with the kindness, love, and care they need to grow and thrive.”

Jay Richards, who serves as the director of the DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family at The Heritage Foundation, told CNA that the legislation provides “some protection against these ghoulish practices,” but he felt that the bill could have been better.

“Utah is to be commended for putting the focus where it should be: on the evidence,” Richards said. “The bill is unduly modest, however. After all, there are already good systematic reviews. We know there’s no reliable evidence for the benefits of these treatments, let alone that the long-term benefits outweigh the harms. Therefore, if the Utah health board is honest with the evidence, the state Legislature will have to follow up with a prohibition on these procedures for minors.”

The legislation passed the Senate 21-7 and the House 58-14. Both chambers have a strong Republican majority and the bill was passed nearly along party lines, with Republicans supporting it and Democrats opposing it.

Four states restricted transgender health care for minors last year, but judges in two of the states — Alabama and Arkansas — blocked those bills from going into effect. Nearly a dozen other states are considering similar legislation this year. Most states do not have any similar restrictions on the books.

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  1. Adding to the cited Jay Richards, the authors of a 2019 study which claimed that so-called gender-transition surgery may improve the long-term mental health of recipients issued a CORRECTION nearly a year after publication:
    “the results demonstrated no advantage of surgery in relation to subsequent mood or anxiety disorder-related health care.” Also, “Individuals diagnosed with gender incongruence who had received gender-affirming surgery were more likely to be treated for anxiety disorders compared with individuals diagnosed with gender incongruence who had not received gender-affirming surgery.”
    Here’s the link:

    But, myths die hard if connected to money.

  2. Loving, sensible and non-woke. I pray that many states will follow suit and return common sense to our society. “Trans” is a concept promoted by a deviant component of our culture that ruins much of human life. Those who promote the alphabet agenda started out with wanting to be accepted, then they demanded celebration, now they want all to agree with their recruiting tactics. Stop the madness.

  3. Way to go, Utah!! Any steps to stop this Frankenstein horror by any US governmental body is welcome. The continued mutilation of underage children is a national scandal and needs to be stopped. The elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about is that these trans folk have an exceptionally high suicide rate. This is an indicator that many of them have mental or emotional issues which are going unaddressed and likely their wish for another body is a component of this. NO underage children should be permitted any surgeries or medications which will permanently alter their sex.Removing healthy body parts is something the Nazi’s would have done under Dr. Mengele. It represents immense hubris and a lack of morality that is breath-taking. In my opinion, doctors who perform such surgeries on underage children should be disbarred and jailed.

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