Utah bans transgender surgeries for minors, restricts hormone use

by Jacob Fuller

Vicky Arias, FISM News

Utah on Saturday passed legislation that bans transgender surgeries on minors and places restrictions on prescribing cross-sex hormone therapy to individuals under 18 years of age.

The Utah Senate passed Senate Bill 16, known as the Transgender Medical Treatments and Procedures Amendments, on Friday, and Utah’s governor, Spencer Cox, signed the measure on Saturday.

“More and more experts, states, and countries around the world are pausing these permanent and life-altering treatments for new patients until more and better research can help determine the long-term consequences,” Cox, a Republican, stated.

“While we understand our words will be of little comfort to those who disagree with us, we sincerely hope that we can treat our transgender families with more love and respect as we work to better understand the science and consequences behind these procedures.”

One of the Utah senators who sponsored the bill, Republican Michael Kennedy, is also a physician. Kennedy recently explained that transgender treatments for minors don’t have enough scientific evidence to justify their safety.

“These novel and irreversible procedures lack sufficient long-term research, but still our country is witnessing a radical and dangerous push for children to enter this version of healthcare,” Kennedy said.

The bill states that surgeries on minors for the purposes of changing their birth sex are prohibited and allows, under certain circumstances, “an individual to bring a medical malpractice action for treatment provided to the individual as a minor if the individual later disaffirms consent.” Additionally, healthcare providers may only prescribe cross-sex hormones to minors under certain conditions.

Those conditions are: physicians must obtain consent in writing from the patient and patient’s parent or guardian; the minor must first be diagnosed with gender dysphoria and treated for the condition for at least six months; other potential physical and psychological diagnoses must first be treated and ruled out as the best treatment for the minor; and physicians must discuss with the minor patient the possible side effects that come with cross-sex hormone consumption.

Patients must also be notified that puberty-blocking regimens aren’t FDA approved for gender dysphoria.

Side effects to be discussed with patients are listed in the bill and include “diminished bone density, pseudotumor cerebri, and long-term adult sexual dysfunction.” Pseudotumor cerebri is linked to, among other things, progesterone use. It’s a condition in which “the pressure inside your skull, intracranial pressure, increases for no obvious reason,” according to the Mayo Clinic, and can cause severe headaches, dizziness, temporary blindness, and “a whooshing sound in your head that pulses with your heartbeat.”

Cross-sex hormone usage and puberty-blocking drugs have side effects that are known and others that have yet to manifest.

St. Louis Children’s Hospital identifies “lower bone density … delayed growth plate closure … [and] less development of genital tissue” as potential long-term side effects associated with puberty blockers.

Additionally, as explained in the bill, “the full effects of puberty blockers on brain development and cognition are unknown.”