Utah GOP calls for ban on elective gender-affirming medical care for minors

Utah lawmakers will likely consider legislation after Senate Speaker Stuart Adams and House Speaker Brad Wilson sign the resolution.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Members of the Utah GOP State Central Committee gather for the organization’s quarterly meeting in Sandy on Saturday, August 13, 2022.

On Saturday, the leadership of the Utah Republican Party fired a shot at Governor Spencer Cox’s bow, calling for a ban on elective gender-affirming care for transgender youth. Earlier this year, Cox angered many GOP members for vetoing a bill banning transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports.

The resolution, sponsored by Utah GOP Chairman Carson Jorgensen, is titled “Protecting Our Most Vulnerable.” He states that the Utah GOP “fully supports banning affirmation surgeries, hormone therapy, and puberty blocking procedures for the purpose of elective gender transitioning among minors.” He then unequivocally supports the efforts of elected officials to oppose “these harmful and irreversible procedures practiced on the children of Utah”.

Jorgensen said his resolution was necessary because gender transition among young people is becoming more common.

“As a father of five daughters, this is extremely important to me. I want them to know they are loved,” Jorgensen said. happen to them when they’re at an age where they’re too young to understand.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah GOP Chairman Carson Jorgensen begins the agenda for the quarterly central committee meeting in Sandy on Saturday, August 13, 2022,

In a clear sign that the GOP-dominated legislature will likely address the issue in the January session, Senate Speaker Stuart Adams, R-Layton, and House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, both signed as as co-sponsors of Jorgensen’s resolution.

“As we prepare for the legislative session, we will explore possible solutions to protect children. I support this being one of the issues we address during the session,” Adams said in a text message in response to a question about signing the resolution.

House Speaker Brad Wilson did not respond to a request for comment.

While the resolution is purely symbolic, having Adams and Wilson on board sends a powerful message to fellow Republicans in the Legislative Assembly. Earlier this year, a bill to ban doctors from performing a transgender procedure on a minor died without a committee hearing. Support from the two leading Republicans in the Legislative Assembly makes it much more likely lawmakers will consider the issue in 2023.

“It’s unprecedented to have the Speaker of the House and the Speaker of the Senate on board with this resolution to protect our most vulnerable. This has never happened before,” said Daniela Harding, GOP chair of the Davis County.” This will get the attention of the legislature.”

Most of those supporting the resolution framed the issue as an urgent need to protect children.

“The issue of gender dysphoria is so volatile and problematic right now in the state of Utah. There are a lot of people who have spoken out against all of this, including [Florida Gov.] Ron DeSantis and a lot of people heard about it on Fox News,” said Teena Horlacher of Davis County. “It’s just an experiment on our children. When you look into it, it’s so disturbing.

“Apart from my religious beliefs, which of course say that God created us male and female, this resolution is not about what adults do. We are American. We have a Constitution that allows adults to make their own choices,” said Jimi Keston of Washington County. “We have to defend the children, or we are not defending anything.”

Rachel Walton, a member of the transgender committee, urged her colleagues to reject the resolution because it represented government overreach.

“It takes a segment of our society further away from its best quality of life and hurts our ability to work together,” Walton said. “It inserts government into our private lives and abandons the cause of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Walton also warned other committee members that the resolution could harm Republicans politically.

“Passing this resolution does nothing to advance our platform or win over Utah voters,” Walton added. “The future of our party, young voters, are not going to be inspired or feel welcomed by these resolutions.”

Party Vice Chairman Jordan Hess received applause from several committee members when he praised Walton for his comments and perspective.

“The left doesn’t have a monopoly on the LGBTQ community. There is room for everyone in this party and I am so grateful that we have a central committee member who is a member of this community and she is welcome here,” Hess said.

Jorgensen’s resolution, which passed with just a handful of “no” votes, was one of two on the subject discussed by Utah Republican leaders Saturday in Sandy. A second, much more detailed proposal called on the legislature to ban puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones for anyone under the age of 18. She also urged lawmakers to ban “mutilating surgery” on a child.

The second proposition leaned heavily on “God-given rights of parents” and warned that “health professionals are pressuring parents and children to make the transition.” It also sounds the alarm that children identify as “furry” – a subculture interested in anthropomorphized animals – and would “seek out medical procedures” based on their feelings.

The second resolution was easily defeated, but not before committee members removed the reference to “furs”.

It remains to be seen whether Governor Cox will receive the message intended by the resolution. He made an appearance on Saturday to speak to committee members but left before discussing the proposal. Cox’s office did not respond to a request for comment.