Utah's transgender law could be affected by Supreme Court ruling

SALT LAKE CITY – The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case that could impact a law banning transgender-related medical treatment for minors in Utah.

The court will examine whether these bans are constitutional or not.

The Supreme Court case came after the state of Tennessee banned all medical treatments designed to help minors transition.

The opponents' argument is that this violates the equal treatment principle of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.

Utah passed a similar law in 2023. SB16 prohibits treatment for minors who were not already taking medications such as hormone blockers when the law went into effect.

“We have made a good policy that will last”

The initiator of the bill, Senator Michael Kennedy, hopes that Utah's law will not be affected by a Supreme Court decision.

“We have developed a good policy that I believe will endure no matter what the Supreme Court does with Tennessee law,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy also said there are many differences between the two laws.

“Because Tennessee law prohibits all care entirely. Our law was more nuanced,” Kennedy said.

We banned dangerous and irreversible operations on these children. But we allowed those already receiving treatment – parents, doctors and patients – who had agreed to continue the treatment they were receiving. New arrivals, on the other hand, were banned or prevented from accessing new treatment.”

A total of 25 states prohibit medical treatments for minors related to transsexuality. These include puberty-inhibiting drugs, hormone therapies and surgical procedures.

Help for children in Utah

Civil rights lawyer Sue Robbins, now retired from Equality Utah, said she was not surprised the court had taken up the issue.

“I guess they felt they had to take up the case even though most federal district courts felt the case violated the 14th Amendment. But the Tennessee district court did not,” Robbins said.

“So we will have to wait and see whether they will come up with a strict regulation or whether they will come up with a more comprehensive regulation.”

Related: Why two Republicans voted against a bill banning transgender surgery

Robbins said if the court rules that these bans are unconstitutional, it could help many children in Utah.

“It's a stressor for our children that they're not getting the care they want,” Robbins said. “Only the puberty blockers prevent them from going through a puberty that is harmful, stressful and anxiety-provoking for them.”

She expressed hope that Utah's law could be overturned by a ruling.

Sometime this fall, the lawyers will present their arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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