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Utah to Become the First State in 2024 to Ban Transgender People From Using Bathrooms

News & Opinion

Utah will become the first US state in 2024 to prohibit transgender individuals and youth from using bathrooms in publicly owned buildings that align with their gender. Utah will join 10 other states, including Florida and North Dakota, that have passed laws seeking to regulate bathroom usage for transgender individuals.


This law will require persons who identify as transgender to use bathrooms that are in agreeance with the sex that they were assigned at birth.



The Utah House voted 52-17 in favor of the legislation (House Bill 257), which aims to define sex and sex-related terms across state law in a way that excludes transgender, non-binary and non-gender-conforming individuals.




The bill’s text legally defines a female as “an individual whose biological reproductive system is of the ova,” and a male as “an individual whose biological reproductive system is of the general type that functions to fertilize the ova of a female.”


Utah will become the third state to restrict trans persons from using bathrooms in buildings other than schools, alongside Florida and North Dakota. However, the legislation in Utah is of a different caliber as North Dakota’s bill only applies to correctional facilities and dorms and Florida’s legislation only applies to government-owned buildings.


In accordance with the bill, trans individuals could also be charged with voyeurism and/or criminal trespass if they use publicly owned bathrooms that align with their gender. According to Utah’s law, these class B Misdemeanors are punishable with up to six months in jail and a fine starting at $1,000 if charged and convicted.



Under the legislation, transgender individuals are able to contest any complaints by providing evidence that they have had their sex changed on their birth certificate after having gender-affirming surgery. However, this clause does not take into consideration that not all states allow individuals to change their sex on their birth certificates or the fact that some transgender persons opt out of gender-affirming surgery.

 

The legislation will also require trans youth and their guardians to develop “privacy plans” along with their schools for students who may not feel comfortable using public bathrooms. These plans are supposed to put measures in place that will allow these students to use single-occupant or unisex bathrooms.


Oppositely, challengers of the bill note that this opens doors for bullying and also forces students to be open about their identity in a way that younger persons may not necessarily be ready for.  



Due to the nature of House Bill 257, this will affect trans individuals and the care and assistance they have access to in unparalleled ways. One such example is if and how transgender individuals would have access to state-funded crisis centers (rape, or domestic violence), which are generally sex-segregated facilities.

 

“This bill perpetuates discrimination, needlessly imposes barriers to the everyday needs of people in Utah, and risks harmful and discriminatory enforcement against transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah said in a letter urging the state’s governor to reject the legislation.

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