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Utah State Senator Stands Up for Trans Intern in Gender-Affirming Care Debate

Utah State Senator Stands Up for Trans Intern in Gender-Affirming Care Debate

Sen. Nate Blouin

A proposed ban on gender-affirming care for minors already negatively affected the state's trans community said a statement from trans intern Ari Webb, read by Sen. Nate Blouin.

A Utah state senator stood up for his transgender intern as the Senate debated a ban on gender-affirming care for minors.

Sen. Nate Blouin (pictured), a Salt Lake City Democrat, read a statement from the intern, Ari Webb, during last week’s discussion of Senate Bill 16.

“Even before SB 16 has passed the Senate, this bill has already negatively impacted my health and well-being and is causing adverse effects on Utah’s trans community,” the statement began. “It is a reminder of the fact that even after being able to transition and to fit in with the rest of society that people like me are not accepted by the majority of this body.

“This is not a partisan issue. No one is trying to indoctrinate your kids into the trans community, though we’d welcome them with open arms. I wouldn’t wish the constant discomfort with my body or the bullying and belittlement on anyone. SB 16 does nothing but prevent people like me from living comfortably.

“I cannot tell you how many nights I stayed up, wishing I wasn’t trans, contemplating whether suicide was better than continuing to live as a trans person. I would not be alive if I had not been able to transition, and I am lucky that my attempts to take my life before that time failed. Starting hormones has made my life worth living, followed closely by getting top surgery and updating my birth certificate, the last of which I did as a minor.

“Transgender people have always existed. For many years, we did our best to hide from the vitriol we face in public but now that we’re coming out and fighting for our rights, we’re seeing pushback like the bill in front of the body today that tries to deny our existence.

“To anyone discouraged by how the majority of this legislature will vote, I will say this: Remember that life will get so much better if you are willing to hold on, and the best thing you can do to overcome those who try to diminish your existence is to continue to exist.

“I will have to face each of you on this floor after this vote, and each of you will have to face me and many other transgender people after today, whether you know it or not. I hope that should someone else disclose their transgender identity to you, it’s because they’re comfortable with you and not because they are pleading with you to recognize their humanity. I hope you can face these people with a clear conscience that you did the right thing today.”

“The bravery on display from Ari, a college student during the first week of his internship, brought people to tears,” says a press release from Blouin. “The LGBTQ+ community can know that no matter what happens, we stand with you.”

The bill did pass the Senate Friday, however, and is now being considered in the Utah House. One Republican joined the chamber’s six Democratic members in voting against the measure, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

It would ban gender-affirming surgery for minors (genital surgery is almost never performed on people under 18) and would also ban what it calls “hormonal transgender treatment” on minors in many cases. It would require Utah’s licensing body to create a certification for providing hormone treatment and would allow medical malpractice suits to be brought against medical professionals who offer this treatment.

Sen. Daniel Thatcher, the only Republican who voted against the bill, said it may be unconstitutional because it allows these procedures for people born with ambiguous genitalia or who need the treatment for another purpose than gender affirmation — for instance, puberty blockers for those experiencing early puberty.

“It seems to me like it’s not equal protection of the law. If we say we prohibit this care if you’re [transgender], but we don’t prohibit the care if you’re not,” Thatcher said, according to the Tribune. “I don’t see how that holds up as constitutional. I believe this bill is unconstitutional, and I cannot vote for it without violating my oath to defend and uphold the Constitution.”

He also wondered if it would lead to parents being jailed if they allow their children to receive such care, and the bill’s lead sponsor, Republican Sen. Mike Kennedy, objected. Senate President Stuart Adams, a Republican, gave Thatcher a warning, saying, “You’re making innuendos that are very difficult for us to be able to handle right now.”

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