Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill that would indefinitely suspend hormone therapy and puberty blockers and ban gender-affirming surgery on transgender minors. The move comes as a growing number of states are considering and implementing laws that would limit transgender youth’s access to gender-affirming health care, and it appears to be a reversal for Cox, who just last year vetoed a measure that would have barred transgender athletes from participating. Girls’ Movement Legal Movement.
In a statement Saturday, Cox said the new law was brought about because it wanted to wait for “more and better research” to determine the long-term consequences of hormone replacement therapy, puberty blockers and gender-affirming surgery. Such legislation is not new, especially in conservative states: In 2022, the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimates that nearly 60,000 transgender youth are at risk of losing access to gender-affirming health care due to state bans and policies .
Research overwhelmingly shows that transgender people who receive needed forms of gender-affirming care report more positive outcomes and that the risks are insignificant compared to the benefits of receiving potentially life-saving treatment. Additionally, major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, have opposed restrictions on gender-affirming health care, which the group calls “medical necessity.”
“The reality is that gender-affirming health care for transgender youth is not controversial in mainstream medicine,” Jack Turban, a child and adolescent psychiatry researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, told The Texas Observer in 2022. “There is broad consensus from all major medical organizations that legislation banning it is dangerous.”
Over the past decade, the body of research supporting the benefits of gender-affirming care has grown to include, critically, longitudinal studies that track patients over time and follow up to measure the long-term impact of this medical care.A 2022 study published in JAMA Network Open A year after receiving gender-affirming care, including puberty blockers and hormone therapy, transgender and nonbinary youth were found to be 60% less likely than those receiving treatment to experience moderate or severe depression, self-harm and suicide Thoughts are 73% less likely to not receive such care.
“Our findings have important policy implications, suggesting that the recent wave of legislation limiting access to gender-affirming care may have had significant negative effects on well-being [trans and nonbinary] young people,” the authors wrote in the study.
One of the largest and longest studies to date in this field was published in New England Journal of Medicine Researchers following more than 300 transgender and nonbinary young people in the U.S. for two years on Jan. 19 found that gender-affirming hormone therapy reduced participants’ symptoms of depression and anxiety and improved their perceptions of life satisfaction. In an accompanying editorial, researchers who were not involved with the study wrote that it provides evidence that puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormones are “effective and safe” ways to treat transgender youth.
On Friday, the Human Rights Campaign condemned the passage of the bill, with state legislative director and senior counsel Kathleen Oakley calling the legislation “discriminatory” and “harmful” to transgender youth in the state.
“Medical decisions are best left to medical professionals and parents or guardians, not politicians with no modicum of medical training who act as if they know better than we do about how to raise and raise our children,” Oakley said in a statement. .”
Lawmakers said they expected legal challenges to the law, which could prevent it from affecting transgender youth seeking care. The law is effective immediately for new patients.