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Lawsuit to take aim at Utah law banning transition care for minors


(Reuters) – The legal director of a leading LGBTQ advocacy group on Monday said he is preparing a lawsuit to ask courts to block a new Utah law that prohibits nearly all gender-transition medical care for minors.

“We’re working with the ACLU of Utah on putting a challenge together as soon as possible,” Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told Reuters.

Utah Governor Spencer Cox on Saturday signed into law a bill that prohibits surgical procedures on minors and indefinitely bans hormonal treatments for new minor patients. It takes effect immediately.

“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 said in a written statement.

Minter called the Utah bill one of the most extreme of a range of measures now before over two dozen state legislatures.

Four other states – Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas and Tennessee – have also passed laws that restrict gender-transition medical care for minors. Judges have temporarily blocked the laws in Alabama and Arkansas.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott last year said medical care for transitions constituted child abuse and ordered a state agency to investigate parents of transgender youth who received treatment. Dozens of restrictive bills are now before Texas legislators.

Gender-affirming care covers letting children adopt a name and dress that aligns with their gender identity, as well as psychological treatment, prescribing hormone blockers and, in some cases, surgery.

Numerous medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, call such treatments potentially life saving.

The number of gender clinics treating kids in the United States has gone from zero to more than 100 in the past 15 years, Reuters reporting has found, but strong evidence of the efficacy and possible long-term consequences of such treatment remains scant.

Minter said the rash of Republican-backed anti-transition care bills now before state lawmakers amounted to “a kind of hysteria, a mob mentality.”

“This involves a very small group of kids with a rare medical condition,” he said. “When kids get the treatment and support they need, they do really well.”