Transgender lives are under attack by the far-right forces that rule the Utah Legislature, and the LGBTQ movement is fighting back.
Utah Governor Spencer Cox recently signed SB 16, which would ban puberty blockers and other necessary gender-affirming health care for minors. Other anti-trans bills being considered include SB 100, which would require parental permission to correct one’s gender on public school records, and SB 93, which would prohibit trans youth from legally transitioning.
The Party for Socialism and Liberation supported an emergency rally organized by Armed Queers Salt Lake City last Wednesday. At least 150 people braved temperatures in the teens on the steps of the Utah State Capitol to call for a fighting movement in defense of trans youth, abortion rights, and other fundamental democratic rights under attack by the right.
For Armed Queers founder Ermiya Fanaeian, “It is clear that the governor’s, state legislatures, and even our federal government, have completely failed to protect some of the most vulnerable amongst us. They have completely ignored the demands of the people time and time again, all while banning live, safe caring for trans children within a matter of days.”
Gender-affirming health care for minors is safe, medically necessary, and supported by every major professional medical association in the United States. Contrary to right-wing fear mongering, treatment never involves medical or surgical interventions before puberty. Once puberty begins, puberty blockers are a safe and temporary intervention that buys time for young people to figure out their genders.
Similarly, the right to correct one’s gender on legal and official records is necessary for the well-being of trans individuals. Preventing access to these rights will lead to significant health impacts for trans youth including a possible spike in teen suicide in Utah, a state already plagued by the impacts of LGBTQ oppression on youth.
These bills are part of a larger assault on LGBTQ people by both state and non-state actors on the far right. A local business, Tea Zaanti in Salt Lake’s Sugar House district, canceled their regular drag shows due to armed intimidation by the Proud Boys. Recent attacks on trans people in Florida and Texas are the latest examples of larger campaigns by these state governments. Donald Trump has outlined a comprehensive plan to attack trans rights if elected in 2024. Despite all of this, in Utah and nationwide, Democrats intermittently voice their support for trans people without putting up any real resistance to these efforts.
These attacks on trans lives in the streets and the halls of power are one and the same, with the goal of eliminating trans people from U.S. society entirely, and are part of a broader attack on our basic democratic rights in the United States, including abortion, gay marriage and voting rights. These attacks are all whipped up by the same right-wing demagogues and bankrolled by the same billionaires, who demonize specially oppressed sectors of the working class as a divide-and-rule tactic, including trans people.
For PSL organizer Dodge Hovermale, “This just means we can’t stop fighting. We need a fighting movement. Because as long as we commit ourselves to finding a way to resist, to keep organizing despite the challenges we will face, the movement cannot be broken. It can be set back. But it cannot be defeated.”
The rights of trans people to medical and legal transition were hard won by the social movements of the 60s, 70s and 90s, and working-class unity against bigotry and for the revolutionary transformation of society can protect them today. Speakers at Wednesday’s rally were united in calling for a sustained, united movement in defense of trans lives.