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(WABNEWS) — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill into law Saturday that prohibits hormonal treatments and surgical interventions for minors who seek gender-affirming medical carethe latest in a series of anti-trans bills affecting minors that have been passed across the country.
Senate Bill 16which the governor signed one day after the Utah legislature sent it to his table, prohibits health care providers from “providing transgender hormone treatment to new patients who have not been diagnosed with gender dysphoria by a date determined” and prohibits them “from performing sexually characteristic surgical procedures on a minor for the purpose of effecting a sex change.RELATED
It also directs the Utah Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a “systematic review of the medical evidence regarding transgender hormone treatments.”
Hormone therapy is one of several treatment options for transgender people. The therapy consists of “feminizing (estrogen) or masculinizing (testosterone) hormones” that transgender people take “as part of a gender transition to help their bodies and appearance align with their gender identity.” according to Planned Parenthoodwhich provides gender-affirming hormonal care.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states in a mission statement that hormone replacement therapy is appropriate starting in adolescence, while gender-affirming surgeries, such as “cosmetic surgery” to remove or enhance the breasts or genital procedures, are generally appropriate for adults.
It’s a statementCox stated that the bill is “not perfect” and called for more research into treatments for transgender youth.
“Legislation that affects our most vulnerable youth requires careful consideration and deliberation,” the Republican governor said in the statement. “While not a perfect bill, we are grateful for Senator (Michael) Kennedy’s more nuanced and thoughtful approach to this terribly divisive issue. More and more experts, states and countries around the world are putting these permanent treatments on hold. and life-altering new patients until more and better research can help determine the long-term consequences.”
“We will continue to push the legislature for additional resources for organizations working to help this important Utah community,” he added. “While we understand that 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.” .
Formerly the Utah Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued a statement opposing the legislation. The non-profit organization stated that “further studies on hormone treatment, as required by this bill, are not necessary, since there is already a large body of scientific evidence and consensus among the main medical and professional organizations that support the hormone treatment for transgender youth.
The burdens the bill places on health professionals “may discourage them from caring for transgender youth,” the ACLU added.
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The World Professional Association for Transgender Health, a professional organization of healthcare workers treating transgender patients, states that specialized health care has been provided to transgender adolescents since the 1980s. Although data on transgender youth is limited, the organization states that the research that does exist demonstrates “an overall improvement in the lives of transgender adolescents who, after careful evaluation, receive medically necessary gender-affirming medical treatment.”
Major medical associations, such as the American Medical Associationthe American Psychiatric Associationthe American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, also agree that gender-affirming medical care is clinically appropriate for children and adults and can save lives. The US Department of Health and Human Services. considers gender-affirming care “crucial to the overall health and well-being” of transgender youth.
But the treatment of transgender youth has come under attack, particularly in red states, in the past year. More than 58,000 transgender youth ages 13 and older have restricted access to gender-affirming healthcare or have received proposals to restrict it, according to estimates from the UCLA Williams Institutewhich investigates sexual orientation and gender identity law and policy.
The Utah law follows in the wake of similar restrictions in other Republican-controlled states. In April of last year, the Florida Department of Health advised against any type of gender-affirming care for children and adolescentsincluding social transition, in which a child or adolescent adopts a name, gender pronouns, and clothing that matches their gender identity.
That same month, Alabama passed its own law, which criminalizes doctors providing gender affirmation services to minors. And in February, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate gender affirming care as child maltreatment.
Alta Spells and WABNEWS’s Jen Christensen contributed to this article.