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The sister of a Republican lawmaker in Utah has urged her brother to abandon anti-transgender legislation which would ban surgeries and hormone therapy for trans minors.
Utah state Representative Brad Raw (R-Orem) is pushing a bill derived from the anti-LGBTQ Eagle Forum, which is working with Republican lawmakers in a number of states to introduce anti-transgender legislation.
His version of their bill would ban surgeries and hormone therapies, but allow puberty blockers, which delay puberty for minors experiencing gender dysphoria, the Associated Press reports.
“We want to do what we think is reasonable practice, which is put off that kind of one-way ticket decision until the youth is an adult,” Daw said, adding that his legislation purports to be respectful of trans youth and their families.
He told Utah’s KUTV that trans youth “need to wait to make a fully informed decision when you’re an adult,” adding that they are “changing their lives permanently.”
But Daw’s sister, Christy Florence, disagrees, and has written an op-ed for the Salt Lake Tribune urging her brother to abandon the legislation.
She decried Daw and other legislators for “[setting] out to target trans youth with ill-conceived and dangerous legislation that attempts to restrict survival opportunities for young people who are transgender.”
One of the founders of Mama Dragons, an organization that offers support to mothers of LGBTQ children, Florence said she has “a deep understanding of what is required to physically, medically and emotionally transition.”
“I have sat with families of transgender youth and heard their stories,” she said. “I have sat with transgender youth themselves and listened to their struggles, and I have held them while they cried. I have sat with grieving parents as they struggle to obtain the life-saving care their kids need in order to start transition; but are met with insurmountable obstacles.”
Florence accused her brother of having little knowledge of what transgender people and their families encounter during their transition, including her own husband, who is trans, and her transgender daughter.
“He knows my daughter and he knows my husband; but he knows little to nothing of their journey,” she said.
She added: “We have offered to be a resource for him and to help educate him on this important and sensitive issue. He has yet to take us up on the offer.”
Noting that the medical community in Utah already provides “competent boundaries and guidance to trans youth,” Florence said that her brother’s legislation would “cause harm to an already vulnerable and struggling population.”
“Legislators are not doctors,” she said. “We don’t need politicians making it harder for kids who are transgender and singling them out for increased bullying and harassment.”
The American Civil Liberties Union told the Associated Press that bills like the one Daw is proposing “would bring devastating harms to the transgender community.”
Chase Strangio, transgender rights lawyer for the ACLU, said preventing transgender youth from accessing transition-related care could lead to increased suicide rates.
“I cannot imagine what happens to transgender people if these criminal bans pass,” Strangio, who is transgender, said. “I don’t think we can possibly raise the alarm enough, because people are going to die.”
Similar bans on medical transitioning for minors have been proposed or introduced in South Carolina and South Dakota, with potential legislation being considered in Colorado, Florida, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
Last week, a House committee in South Dakota approved a bill that would ban medical providers from prescribing hormones or gender confirmation surgery for transgender youth.
And a Republican lawmaker in South Carolina claimed his version of such a bill would protect children from being “pressured or bullied” into having their gender reassigned. However, one LGBTQ organization said it would have “disastrous implications” for transgender youth.
Transgender rights are increasingly becoming a wedge issue utilized by Republican lawmakers.
In Arizona, three bills have been introduced targeting transgender youth, with one effectively “gagging” schools by preventing them from recognizing a transgender student’s preferred pronouns.
In Kentucky, Republicans are seeking to bar transgender students in public schools from using restrooms that match their gender identities.
And Republican lawmakers in at least three states are pushing legislation to restrict transgender athletes to competing based on their birth sex, rather than their gender identity.
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