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Utah Lawmaker Won't Introduce Legislation To Ban Transgender Hormone Therapy For Minors This Session

Photo of the dome of the Utah capitol building
Cory Dinter
Utah lawmakers are considering a bill that would direct the state Health Department to commission a review of scientific research on the effects of puberty blocking drugs.

Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, said he will not run a bill this legislative session banning transgender hormone therapy and surgery for minors. He has opted instead to run legislation to study puberty blocking drugs.

The replacement bill directs the Health Department to commission a review of scientific research on the effects of puberty blocking drugs. Some lawmakers had told Daw they needed more clarity on the effects of the drugs before they would support a bill banning them, according to Daw. 

He said he also heard concerns from parents who told him their kids needed the drugs to treat their gender dysphoria and avoid serious mental health issues. 

“If they look at what the potential side effects are, and what they’re potentially buying in to, they may decide, you know what, I can wait,” Daw said. “It's giving them information to make a better decision.”

The drugs don’t cause a permanent change to someone’s body, but instead “pauses puberty, providing time to determine if a child's gender identity is long lasting,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Side effects may include weight gain, headaches and fertility issues.

Daw said right now he has no plans to introduce a bill to banhormone therapy or surgery, as he had originally intended, and wants to gather more information before he makes a decision. 

“If we need to take the next step, we will,” Daw said. 

While Equality Utah executive director Troy Williams is glad that Daw has abandoned his original bill, he’s worried that the results of the review would be skewed. 

“We need more than one doctor reviewing the literature,” Williams said, adding that the people reviewing the scientific literature should have experience in transgender-related health care. “We also need to look at not just the side effects of medication, but also benefits of medication.”

And though he’s advocating for those changes to the bill, Williams hopes it never sees a committee hearing. 

“No transgender youth who's struggling with their care and navigating school needs to hear a bunch of bunk and transphobic rhetoric spewed at the Utah state Capitol,” Williams said. “That's not good for their mental health … This is really about trying to intimidate and create fear in within the transgender community.”

Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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