Updated: Sep 6
On Saturday, August 13th, the Utah Republican Party released a resolution expressing the party’s support for a blanket ban on all gender-affirming care for minors within the state. The resolution, titled “Protecting Those Most Vulnerable,” is sponsored by Utah GOP Chairman, Carson Jorgensen, and is co-sponsored by both the president of the state’s Senate and the Speaker of Utah’s House, Stuart Adams and Brad Wilson. As the resolution is backed by both the Speaker of the House and the president of the Senate, it would not be surprising to see legislation that follows through on the resolution during the next legislative session, which would begin in late January.
The resolution calls for the ban of
“affirmation surgeries, hormone therapy, and puberty-blocking procedures for the purpose of elective gender transitioning on minors.”
then goes on to claim all of those “harmful and irreversible procedures,” so let’s review some relevant facts.
For affirmation surgeries, most of them, like vaginoplasty and phalloplasty, already require the patient to be the age of majority; however, not all surgeries require the age of majority, like mastectomies and breast augmentation, which instead require a year in “the gender role that is congruent with their gender identity.”
Additionally, these require the consent of–depending on the provider–one or both of the parents of the patient. Denying care to young adults who seek to get a mastectomy or breast augmentation is likely to increase their risk of suicide.
Even in transgender adults, being able to get access to gender-affirming care alone reduces the prevalence of suicide attempts in the past year by 3.4%, accounting for all other variables. With that difference in just transgender adults, the difference is likely to be increased in adolescents, as suicidality is highest among transgender youth.
Hormone therapies, unlike most surgeries, are available for minors, given that they meet some arbitrary requirements that just serve as a barrier to entry and ultimately harm the community. Even though hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, can be accessed by some minors, many transgender adults already have trouble getting HRT due to arbitrary requirements, which are usually much stricter for minors.
Despite the resolution claiming that hormone therapy is completely irreversible, hormone therapy is instead partially reversible, depending on how long an individual has been on hormones, which hormones, and other factors. As for being considered a “harmful procedure,” gender-affirming hormone therapy has been proven to reduce the rates of attempted suicides, suicidal ideation, and depression among all transgender youths aged 13-24, with even more reduction in depression and suicidality in the 13-17 age bracket
Transgender youths aged 13-17 are 11.7% less likely to have attempted suicide if they have received gender-affirming hormone therapy, 10.5% less likely to have seriously considered suicide, and 17% less likely to report having depression.
Transgender youths aged 13-24 who are on gender-affirming hormone therapy are 8.6% less likely to have attempted suicide, 13.2% less likely to seriously consider suicide, and 14.2% less likely to report having depression.
As for puberty blockers, the Republican Party is blatantly lying. Puberty blockers are considered by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health to be “fully reversible.” Additionally, wanting and having access to puberty blockers has been proven to reduce the odds of lifetime suicidal ideation.
The studies prove that access to gender-affirming care, especially hormone therapies, can significantly improve the quality of life of transgender people, especially minors. By calling for the ban of these life-saving healthcare options, the Republican Party is
directly creating and trying to harm these communities that are already in danger.
Aside from just affecting the mental health of transgender people within the state by denying these healthcare options, being unable to access them also leads to an increase in experienced transphobia when just trying to exist, which will compound and harm their mental health even further.
When speaking about the mental health of transgender people, it is very important to also talk about their social experiences as well, and now that we’ve been over how healthcare can vastly improve our lives, it is important to touch on how other things can help reduce depression and suicide among transgender communities. Having a supportive family reduces the prevalence of past year suicide attempts by 7.3%, and having supportive classmates or co-workers is also shown to reduce the prevalence of past year suicide thoughts or attempts. Additionally, transgender individuals whose families respect their chosen name and pronouns are also shown to reduce suicidality and depression.
1 – Standards of Care - WPATH World Professional Association for Transgender Health. (n.d.). https://www.wpath.org/publications/soc
2 – Herman, J. L., & O’Neill, K. K. (2021, September). Suicide Risk and Prevention for Transgender People: Summary of Research Findings. Williams Institute. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/trans-suicide-risk-prevent-summary/
3 – Austin, A., Craig, S. L., D’Souza, S., & McInroy, L. B. (2020). Suicidality Among Transgender Youth: Elucidating the Role of Interpersonal Risk Factors. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32345113/
4 – Green, A. E., DeChants, J. P., Price, M. N., & Davis, C. K. (2021). Association of Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy With Depression, Thoughts of Suicide, and Attempted Suicide Among Transgender and Nonbinary Youth. https://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(21)00568-1/fulltext
5 – Turban, J. L., King, D., Carswell, J. M., & Keuroghlian, A. S. (2020). Pubertal Suppression for Transgender Youth and Risk of Suicidal Ideation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7073269/