Bill to create way to change gender designation clears panel

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A panel of Utah lawmakers approved a Republican senator’s plan Monday to create a process for transgender people to legally change their gender designation through the courts, though not without some disagreement.

The LGBT rights group Equality Utah said they’re concerned about some revisions in the bill, including a section that requires a person to live in state to make the change.

“That’s unconstitutional, you cannot deny out-of-state residents a benefit,” said Cliff Rosky, a member of Equality Utah’s advisory council, though he expressed support for the underlying concept.

He also expressed concern about language implying a person couldn’t be recognized as transgender until their birth certificate changed.

Sen. Todd Weiler of Woods Cross urged the committee to pass it, saying he will work on the plan as it moves to consideration by the full Utah Senate. It passed on a 3-1 vote.

He said he sponsored the bill to clarify a vague law dating back decades. While some Utah judges are approving gender-change petitions under the current law, others are not, he said.

Weiler’s proposal would let anyone file a petition to change their gender designation with their local court as long as they’ve lived in their county for at least one year, are not involved in any other legal proceedings, on probation or parole and are not requesting the change to avoid creditors.

It would not require a person to have taken any specific steps, such as sex-change surgery or hormone therapy. A judge can approve the change as long as someone shows there’s a reason for it.

The bill comes after two transgender people appealed to the Utah Supreme Court when a judge denied their petitions to change their genders on their driver’s licenses.

Second District Judge Noel Hyde cited a lack of clarity in state law in denying the petitions from transgender residents Angie Rice and Sean Childers-Gray.

The high court hasn’t yet issued a ruling in that case.

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