Lawmaker proposes guidelines to follow when someone wants to legally change genders

One Utah lawmaker says courts have no guidance on how to deal with transgender Utahns who want to legally change their gender.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, says SB138 will provide a list of things for judges to consider when such a case comes before them because right now, the judicial branch is making it up as they go along.

“One of the biggest fears we have as legislators is we’ll have judges legislating from the bench. But, that’s what they’re doing right now,” he says. “As a legislature, I feel we’ve failed the judiciary. We’ve given them absolutely no guidance on what factors to consider.”

Weiler says there is a statute on the books from the 1950’s for when someone wants to change their age or gender. It’s not designed to deal with transgendered people, but that’s how it’s being applied. 

Weiler says his bill is not to thwart any Utahns who may be seeking to change their gender. Instead, Weiler is hoping to assist judges in determining if someone is attempting the official gender change to avoid legal action or some other fraudulent purposes.

The Utah Supreme Court is currently considering a gender-change petition from two transgender Utahns. They were denied the gender change by a lower court, but are asking the Supreme Court to overturn that decision.

Weiler says his bill will not be retroactive, so it won’t have any bearing on that case.

“We, as a legislature, can debate what the factors a judge should consider in these cases should be, but the status quo is unsustainable. We can’t continue to tell every judge in the state that they should just make something up.”