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Hundreds of people gather at Utah State Capitol to rally for trans youth

Utah trans rally
Ivana Martinez/KUER
Hundreds of people gathered at the Utah State Capitol to rally in support of trans youth Thursday.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Utah State Capitol Thursday evening to urge lawmakers to not overturn Gov. Spencer Cox’s veto on a bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in girls’ school sports.

Chants of ‘we love you’ echoed in the crowd as trans kids took to the capitol steps, with flags and signs.

Lawmakers introduced — and passed — HB 11 on the final night of the session.

Many LGBTQ+ advocates praised Cox for his veto but minutes after, Republican lawmakers announced they would hold a special session to override the veto Friday.

trans rally attendee
Ivana Martinez/KUER
An attendee at the trans rally at the Utah State Capitol.

Amanda Darrow, director of youth, family, and education at the Utah Pride Center, said this bill sends a clear message to the transgender community.

“It tells them that they don't belong in this space, and that's the most harmful thing I can ever imagine telling my transgender kids,” Darrow said. “They do belong in these spaces. When they say that transgender girls don't belong in girls sports, they're saying that transgender girls are not girls. Transgender girls are girls.”

She said this legislation would prevent children who are exploring their gender identity from coming out.

Ivy J. P., a high school student said transgender youth already have enough obstacles to deal on the day-to-day basis and this bill only adds to that.

“Several people make glances, say things behind our back to our face and outright exclude us from normal everyday activities,” she said. “This gets to you. It starts hurting, and this can be [a] demeaning and depressing thing when it happens daily. The stigma can be brutal and lead to depression and suicidal ideation — the unacceptance and these small things add up just like HB 11. This only contributes to the rising suicide rates among transgender youth.”

A 2021 survey by the Trevor Project, found that 85% of transgender and/or nonbinary youth reported that recent debates about anti-trans bills negatively affected their mental health.

Andres Brown, assistant clinical director at Encircle, said they often deal with the fallout of this type of legislation in counseling sessions with LGBTQ youth.

“In our therapy offices [we] often have to interact with the real life ramifications of a policy like this, of legislative action like this,” Brown said. “We often are in the position of helping people to heal the wounds that adults cause on young humans.”

Margaret Plumb, a trans high school senior, said bills like this have prevented her from trying out things she might have wanted to explore and due to the potential stigma.

Margaret Plumb
Ivana Martinez/KUER
Margaret Plumb attends the trans rally with her mother

I do really love basketball, but I don't want to be ‘othered’,” she said. “I just get this fear that someone's going to call me out or like they're going to make me change in the men's changing room and that’s scary.”

She said she is terrified of normal things like using the restroom and often keeps her head down to avoid potential confrontation due to her gender identity.

Darrow and many others echoed that regardless of what happens at the special session tomorrow they will be there to support the community.

Two-thirds of lawmakers must vote in favor of the bill in order to override the governor’s veto.

Ivana is a general assignment reporter
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