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SL Co. DA criticizes bills targeting transgender youth

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Posted at 3:42 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 18:04:16-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill is criticizing laws that target transgender youth, signing on to a letter with prosecutors from across the nation suggesting they will not enforce such laws.

Gill joined about 70 other prosecutors in signing a statement, made public on Tuesday by the group Fair and Just Prosecution. It criticizes laws being run in multiple states seeking to block medical treatments for transgender youth (in some cases threatening doctors with criminal charges), or block them from participating in sports.

"As elected prosecutors and law enforcement leaders, we condemn the ongoing efforts to criminalize transgender people and gender-affirming healthcare across the country. These blatantly unconstitutional attacks on some of the most vulnerable Americans will deeply harm public safety," the statement said. "We call on policymakers to cease this extraordinary overreach and leave healthcare decisions to patients, families, and medical providers, and we pledge to use our discretion and not promote the criminalization of gender-affirming healthcare or transgender people."

But the statement goes on to suggest that prosecutors would not go after doctors who offer transgender health care in defiance of any law that is passed.

"Bills that criminalize safe and crucial medical treatments or the mere public existence of trans people do not promote public safety, community trust, or fiscal responsibility. They serve no legitimate purpose. As such, we pledge to use our settled discretion and limited resources on enforcement of laws that will not erode the safety and well-being of our community," the statement said.

"And we do not support the use of scarce criminal justice and law enforcement resources on criminalization of doctors who offer medically necessary, safe gender-affirming care to trans youth, parents who safeguard their child’s health and wellbeing by seeking out such treatments, or any individuals who use facilities aligned with their gender identity."

In a statement to FOX 13, Gill declined to say if he would refuse to prosecute, as there is no law.

"I don’t want to speculate on a law that hasn’t been written or passed. What should be crystal clear is these anti-transgender laws serve no legitimate purpose. Criminal justice resources should be used to keep our communities safe, not to criminalize the dignity of people," he said. "This is even more critical for criminal justice leaders, because of the disproportionate crimes committed against the LGBTQ community."

The Utah State Legislature considered bills dealing with transgender youth in the 2021 session, but neither passed. Lawmakers are expected to revisit the issues again in 2022. They held hearings earlier this month on a bill to block youth from getting hormone therapy treatments and another that prohibits specifically transgender girls from participating in school sports.

Governor Spencer Cox has been outspoken in his opposition to the bills.

Read the full statement here: