Current Affairs

A Utah Republican wants to legally erase transgender people

Josh Jackman January 23, 2019
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Utah Republican Merrill Nelson, who wants to stop transgender people from changing their official gender

Merrill Nelson, who filed the "transgender-phobic" House Bill 135 (Representative Merrill Nelson/facebook)

A Republican lawmaker in Utah has drafted legislation which would stop transgender people from changing their birth certificates.

House Bill 153, which was filed to the state‘s House of Representatives on Tuesday (January 22) by Merrill Nelson, defines sex as “the innate and immutable characteristics established at conception.”

If passed by Utah’s Republican-controlled Senate and House, and its Republican Governor, the legislation would also remove language which currently means that trans people can ask a judge for permission to change their official birth gender later in life, according to politics website Utah Policy.

Nelson defended his bill, saying: “It is a fiction to change the sex designation on a birth certificate—a vital record—based on fluctuating gender.”

“This bill is clearly aimed at hurting the Utah transgender community”

— Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah

He added that gender was determined at conception, calling this statement “a scientific and medical fact.”

Speaking to Utah TV station KSTU, Nelson said that “gender identification, based on one’s self-perception, may vary.

“While gender identification is subjective, a person’s sex, as male or female, is determined objectively by science and medicine.

“The birth certificate records ‘sex,’ not ‘gender identity.’ Therefore, gender identity should not be used to change the sex designation on the birth certificate.”

Republican legislation attacked by transgender activists in Utah

However, Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, told Utah Policy that the bill was “an egregious step backward for transgender Utahns.”

He called the Republican legislation “transgender-phobic,” adding: “This bill is clearly aimed at hurting the Utah transgender community.”

In a statement to KSTU, Williams said: “In 2015 the Utah Legislature crafted the state’s first legal protections for transgender Utahns.

“However, this legislation recklessly maligns the dignity of the transgender community. It is an egregious violation of the spirit and tone of Utah’s ‘Fairness for All’ model.”

Republican bill reminiscent of Trump administration’s memo about transgender people

The legislation in Utah is similar to the Department of Health and Human Services’ memo which was leaked in October.

It proposed defining a person’s sex as male or female, as identified by “immutable biological traits” at birth.

The document’s suggestions, if implemented by the Republican president, would bar official recognition of transgender people across the US.

A leaked memo from the Republican-controlled Department of Health and Human Services led LGBT activists from the National Centre for Transgender Equality, partner organisations and their supporters to hold a 'We Will Not Be Erased' rally in front of the White House on October 22, 2018 in Washington, DC
Activists gathered at the White House after the release of Trump administration memo (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Trump later confirmed that the White House was “looking at” imposing a new transgender policy.

The proposal sparked outrage and ‘We Will Not Be Erased’ protests in a number of locations around the country, including outside the White House.

It also led more than 1,600 scientists to sign an open letter calling on the Trump administration to withdraw the memo.

The signatories of the November 1 letter, which included nine Nobel Prize winners, said the proposal was “fundamentally inconsistent not only with science, but also with ethical practices, human rights, and basic dignity.”

Related topics: equality utah, gender, Law, Politics, Republican, Trans, Transgender, Troy Williams, US, US, Utah

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