Utah House Bill (H.B) 127 and Our Youth in Utah

If passed in its current form, H.B. 127 will remove access to life-saving medical treatment from a vulnerable group. A recent study conducted by Stanford University found that transgender individuals who started gender-affirming hormone therapy as teens had better mental health outcomes compared to those who waited until adulthood. Their findings are consistent with my own experience working with this population for more than a decade.

I have personally seen remarkable improvements in mental health after individuals struggling with gender dysphoria are able to access this medical care. It is my professional opinion that access to this medical treatment is both appropriate and humane at age appropriate points. That doesn’t mean that gender-affirming hormone therapy is the solution for everyone, which is why we have standards of care to help guide treatment.

I have been told that a substitute bill is likely to be introduced that would only ban “bottom surgeries” for transgender youth under 18 years of age. This suggests the substitute bill would continue to allow access to gender-affirming hormone treatment to individuals under 18 years of age. It would also allow doctors to perform some surgeries, like mastectomy, but punish doctors for performing “unnecessary” surgeries as part of a “gender transition procedure.”

Existing medical standards of care already establish the same professional boundaries for medical providers. For example, surgeons are already outside the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care if performing “bottom surgeries” on someone who is transgender and under 18 years of age. In contrast, surgeons continue to be allowed to perform such surgeries on intersex children before they are old enough to understand and participate in their own medical care, which H.B. 127 would continue to support.

This creates a situation where parents would essentially have to test their children to potentially qualify for access to medical treatment if the bill is passed in any form.

Finally, our legislative process should not be used for trivial reasons. Medical providers are already at risk of punishment for performing these surgeries on individuals under 18 years of age, which means the substitute bill would really change nothing. It reveals the hypocrisy in this effort and that is not really about the young people at the heart of this issue. It seems more likely that it is about fundraising for some and scoring political points for others. None of the people proposing this bill seem to care about the impact it is already having on these amazing members of our families, communities, and state.

A brief summary of concerns about H.B. 127:

  • B. 127 would create a purity test for access to medical care. Utah families would be forced to spend money on expensive medical testing just to try and access the same medical system that everyone else is allowed to use without such testing. This is the epitome of government interference in medical decisions, the cost of medical care, and access to medical care.  
  • B. 127 creates separate medical standards of care for a specific group that already faces widespread stigma and discrimination in our society. Transgender and gender-diverse youth deserve access to the same medical care as everyone else. Medical standards of care should be established by medical professionals who actually work with and treat the populations impacted by such standards. We all lose when politicians start using our medical needs as political wedge issues.
  • B. 127 would establish a legal definition of sex that intentionally excludes people who are different. The real purpose of H.B. 127 is to establish a legal definition of “biological sex at birth” which requires all people to be male or female. This definition intentionally excludes intersex individuals and ignores visible natural variability seen in human development. Perhaps sponsors have decided to ignore the fact that some children are not designated male or female on birth records. It seems more likely that they simply refuse to accept people who are different from their beliefs.
  • B. 127 will cost Utah in many ways. The most obvious costs will be legal costs. But it will also cost Utah in terms of business investment and reputation. We have a legacy of working together to find compromise on controversial issues like nondiscrimination legislation.  We have been able to set an example for others to follow. Taking away access to life saving medical treatment makes Utah look bad because it is openly discriminatory.
  • B. 127 would place an unnecessary burden on our medical providers by politicizing the care they can and can’t provide. This only adds additional stress at a time where providers are burning out in record numbers. We need more medical providers, not less. We need more access to competent health care providers, not less.

The young people of Utah deserve better and we should be supporting all young people during this challenging time, especially those who are most vulnerable. This is not who we are or who we should want to be. The time for demonstrating our love and support for transgender and gender-diverse young people is now, and I want to thank you for helping to convey that message.

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  • Jessa Hurty
    published this page in Newsroom 2022-02-19 09:42:35 -0700

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