Utah Ban On Transgender Bathroom Use Awaits Governor’s Signature

"Let’s be clear, sexual assault knows no boundaries."

The Utah legislature passed a ban last week on transgender bathroom use in public buildings, and the bill is now awaiting the governor’s signature.

Lawmakers passed the ban, called the “Sex-based Designations for Privacy, Anti-bullying and Women’s Opportunities,” on Friday in a 58-16 vote mostly along party lines.

The new law prohibits trans-identifying people from using the bathrooms of the opposite sex in public buildings such as K-12 schools and government buildings. Under the bill, any new public building must have a single occupancy bathroom, and the bill also encourages the state to add more single bathrooms to existing buildings.

The bill also establishes that the state’s legal definition of “male” and “female” is based on their reproductive systems rather than their gender identity.

The bill has been sent to the desk of Governor Spencer Cox, a Republican. However, the governor has not indicated whether he plans to sign the bill.

“Let’s be clear, sexual assault knows no boundaries. Keeping men from women’s spaces is an appropriate and much needed boundary in Utah and across America,” Utah state Representative Kera Birkeland, the bill’s main sponsor, said on X on Thursday.

Birkeland said she recognized it was a “challenging and sensitive topic” and that she had met with survivors of sexual assault and parents of children her legislation could affect.

“I don’t think we wait until an 8-year-old is raped or molested by a predator. I think we act in good faith, with respect, finding accommodations that show compassion all along the way,” Birkeland told a legislative committee earlier this month.

Riley Gaines, a former college swimmer and women’s sports activist, thanked Birkeland for her “leadership” on the bill in a post Thursday on X.

“All eyes on [Governor Cox] (R). Will he veto it like he did the women’s sports bill in Utah? Keep the pressure on. Men don’t belong in women’s bathrooms,” Gaines posted.

In 2022, Cox vetoed a bill that would have barred trans-identifying males from competing on girls sports teams in schools. His vetoed was ultimately overridden by the legislature, and the bill went into effect.

However, last year Cox changed his approach, signing a ban on transgender medical interventions for children.

On Thursday, Utah’s Democratic lawmakers held a press conference wearing all black to signify their disapproval of the bathroom ban.

At least 10 other states — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee — also have laws dealing with which bathrooms trans-identifying people can use.

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