On January 24, the Utah Health and Human Services Committee held a hearing for the proposal of HB132 and SB16. HB132 failed to pass and would have banned hormonal and surgical interventions for minors related to gender. However, SB16 has now passed in the Utah house and senate as of January 26. It will ban surgery, but only limit hormone treatments. Chloe Cole, a well-known detransitioner, testified for support of the bills while protests and others argued for youth under 18 to be able to have the hormonal and surgical gender treatments.
Protests outside the capitol against both bills happened prior to the hearing with speakers including Reverend Monica Dobbins of the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City. The Church “engages in building a progressive and just world.”
Dobbins addressed the crowd about the protest saying, “doing the work up here is an act of love” and addressing parents of transgender youth, said, “I know that you are so proud of your kid. I want you to know you are doing the right thing.”
Dobbins commented to the Chronicle that “Children have very few individual rights in society, and the fight for freedom of gender expression and bodily autonomy is no exception.” She continued saying that the “Unitarian Universalist congregations are independent, and so there is no official church policy on any given issue.”
However, she cited the “General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association” statement on gender issues.
The statement “Call[s] for inclusive policies at all levels of government that remove barriers and binaries, and enact gender-neutral approaches in policy” and “to ensure accessible all-gender restrooms are available in all [church] spaces.” Two other efforts in the statement are to “Support local organizations led by trans/nonbinary/intersex people and efforts to defund police” and “decriminalize sex work.”
Dobbins concluded saying that the Church “consider[s] this legislation to be mean, hurtful, unnecessary, and a violation of the rights of personhood.”
Later during the hearing, support and opposition for the bills were presented. Starting with HB132.
Cole introduced herself as “an 18-year-old detransitioner that was harmed directly by the treatments that you’re seeking to protect children from.”
“My so-called gender specialist simply referred me to another who would immediately affirm and prescribe blocker and cross-sex hormones when I was only 13 years old. This endocrinologist asked a 13-year-old girl, ‘Are you aware that you may experience atrophy of the vagina? And that these treatments may affect your ability to have children as an adult?’” she continued.
Cole remarked that the “puberty blockers left me feeling dead inside and I could not wait to get off. It’s basically menopause for children… My butcher, sorry, my gender affirming surgeon removed my healthy breasts at age 15.”
Later that evening, Cole gave a separate speech in the hall of the governors, reported on by Josh Nelson, explaining that puberty blockers are “absolutely not reversible” as many claim about their effects.
Witnesses who opposed the bills included Nicole Mihalopoulos, who is a professor of pediatrics at University of Utah and specializes in “adolescent transgender healthcare.” Mihalopoulos said that “gender affirming care is as equally life saving and important as treatment for asthma, autism, type-1 diabetes, or heart conditions.”
Another witness, who is under 18 and will go unnamed, opposed the bill in the public hearing, saying, “You may be wondering why kids like me want to take hormone replacement therapy or get puberty blockers or surgery at such a young age. Well, it is simply because having the ability to express yourself in the way that you see yourself is the most beautiful thing in the world.”
The witness, who started transitioning at 14, said, “As soon as I went on testosterone, I felt like I was finally being heard.”
SB16, with only limits on blockers and bans on surgeries for minors, has passed the house and senate and will now go to governor’s office. HB132, banning all gender treatment for minors, will go through the amednment process.
Written by: Thomas Stevenson
Editor-in-Chief of The Cougar Chronicle
The Cougar Chronicle is an independent student-run newspaper and is not affiliated with Brigham Young University or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints