SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – A state lawmaker wants to provide clear policy for a legal gender change in Utah.
Opposition from conservative lawmakers and the LGBTQ community doomed the bill this year, but it will be back.
“I’m trying to start the education process earlier. So, it will go to interim committee in August and the bill, I think, will come up in the first week of the session instead of the second to last week of the session,” said Senator Todd Weiler, (R) Woods Cross.
He says an outdated, 1970s statute is leaving judges with too much discretion. He says some are granting every request., while others are denying every request.
“Although there is criteria that the legislature has given the courts to consider a name change, we’ve been silent on the gender change. So, each judge has to kind of make up their own criteria.”
That’s why he wants the legislature to set a clear policy for judges to follow.
The LGBTQ community says that needs to happen because the inconsistency is unfair.
“My observational feeling is that we are in the area of about 70 percent are being awarded,” said Sue Robbins with the Utah Pride Center.
She says the denials are coming out of Weber County and rural Utah.
She supports the premise of the bill but opposes two parts of it.
One, an age limit, that Weiler says could be dropped to 15 or 16 this time around.
Second, a requirement that shows a birth certificate has been amended.
“Here we are talking about a legal intervention. Aligning our legal documentation up with who we are so that when we are out in society, we’re at school, we’re at work we’re not outed to everybody. We’re just able to live life like everybody else without our past being thrown up against us,” said Robbins.
The Utah Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a case against a Weber County judge in January 2018, but hasn’t ruled on it yet.
Senator Weiler says regardless of what the court does, the legislature still needs to act.