Transgender youth are re-emerging as the focal point of the Utah State House

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah lawmakers wasted no time this week before returning to an issue that has become a common theme in the GOP-led state role: trying to limit the medical options doctors are allowed to provide to transgender youth.

On the second day of the legislative session, a committee began considering a policy that would prevent minors from receiving gender-affirming healthcare. – Including surgery or puberty blockers. They also began considering a proposal that would require schools to notify parents when children want to change the pronouns they use, and another that would limit when transgender people under the age of 18 can change the gender listed on their birth certificates.

Each measure advanced through the committee on a 5-2 partisan vote.

The proposals reflect how legislators in red states will continue To make matters related to gender, sexuality and youth central to its legislative agenda. As LGBTQ Americans become increasingly visible in popular culture, some social conservatives have rallied around issues like bathrooms Transgender kids can use it, and sports teams are allowed to play on it and health care can prescribe their doctors.

This year, 11 countries She made proposals that would enact restrictions on doctors from prescribing puberty blockers, hormones, or surgery to transgender children and teens, regardless of what their parents want. Republicans on Tuesday He made a proposal for transgender health care in South Dakota, where a supportive lawmaker called puberty a “natural cure” for gender dysphoria.

State Senator Mike Kennedy, a Republican family physician sponsoring the Utah proposal, said it makes no sense that health care policy on gender and youth — which is sometimes reversible and other times irreversible — would not be subject to any government oversight.

He acknowledged that the topic was emotional for families of transgender youth, but said it was the government’s responsibility to address issues of children’s consent and development.

“Taking care of our children is not about riding the latest radical wave,” he said. “We should ask questions: Does the child understand the long-term ramifications of his decision?”

“We cannot allow social policy to trump science,” he added, calling for more research on gender dysphoria and noting that medical fields in countries such as Finland and Sweden have tightened regulations governing health care for transgender youth.

Questions about transgender youth and their health care dovetail with another growing Republican priority: parental rights. Jerri Bromet, a transgender woman and member of the Salt Lake County Republican Party, called the proposal excessive government involvement in individual medical decisions.

She said the bill “is intended to protect transgender minors from their doctors and parents, yet its real effect is to place this legislature and state government between parents, their children, and their doctors.”

Greg Walker, a Utah parent whose daughter has identified as transgender “since she’s been able to speak,” said it’s frustrating to see the healthcare decisions his family and their doctors make become politicized.

At every turn—before she started taking puberty blockers or estrogens, for example—Walkers and their doctors deliberate meticulously and rely on experts like the American Academy of Pediatrics to understand the “risks of doing this and not doing it.”

Walker said he was particularly concerned about the disproportionately high suicide rates among transgender youth and the potential harm the absence of treatment could cause.

“As a parent. My number one priority is taking care of my child and making sure my child is safe,” Walker said.

In Utah, where the majority of residents and politicians are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, lawmakers have for years focused largely on social issues, including pornography. and alcohol. Last year, the legislature enacted a Republican supermajority A ban on transgender children in girls’ sports. It was later challenged In court pause. While the case is being reviewed, a panel of experts makes eligibility decisions for transgender youth.

One concern that arose during discussions about eligibility decisions was the use of birth certificates to verify the gender of athletes because transgender people routinely come forward to change it. The Utah Supreme Court affirmed Their right to make changes two years ago.

State Senator Dan McKay, a Republican who led the campaign to ban youth sports last year, said limiting the changes would help Utah enforce its youth sports policy and would only affect minors. Opponents who testified at the hearing said the changes in identity documents was an issue of individual freedom and very emotional for transgender people who did not want to come out on their own on a daily basis.

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