Sponsored by Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, House Bill 153 attempts to create legal definitions for “male” and “female” within the state of Utah. The bill would also prevent citizens of Utah from amending their birth certificates to reflect a gender transition.
The proposed bill defines “female” as having ovaries at birth for the purpose of procreating with men:
“'Female' means an individual with ovaries who is confirmed before or at birth to have external anatomical characteristics that appear to have the purpose of performing the natural reproductive function of providing eggs and receiving sperm from a male donor."
The bill would also define the term “Male” based on genitalia at birth for the purpose of procreating with a woman:
"'Male'" means an individual with testes who is confirmed before or at birth to have external anatomical characteristics that appear to have the purpose of performing the natural reproductive function of providing and delivering sperm to a female recipient."
The bill would remove the term “sex change” from the state’s rules for amending birth certificates. Citizens of Utah would only be allowed to change their names, and must otherwise prove to a court “a mistake of fact that occurred at the time the birth” when the certificate was originally issued in order to have any other information changed.
In a written statement to given Utah’s FOX 13 on Wednesday, Rep. Nelson insisted his bill is meant to preserve the “accuracy and integrity of the birth certificate as a vital state record” while claiming it is not motivated by phobia or hate.
“HB153 is based on the scientific and medical fact that an individual’s sex is determined at conception by chromosomal make-up and is not subject to change or self-determination later in life,” Nelson wrote. “By contrast, gender identification, based on one’s self-perception, may vary. While genderidentification is subjective, a person’s sex, as male or female, is determined objectively by science and medicine. The birth certificate records ‘sex,’ not ‘gender identity.’ Therefore, gender identity should not be used to change the sex designation on the birth certificate.”
LGBTQ+ rights organization Equality Utah says the bill is an attempt to erase transgender Utahns.
“In 2015 the Utah Legislature crafted the state’s first legal protections for transgender Utahns. However, this legislation recklessly maligns the dignity of the transgender community. It is an egregious violation of the spirit and tone of Utah’s ‘Fairness for All’ model,” Equality Utah executive director Troy Williams said in a statement.
Currently, Utah law allows it citizens to change the gender marker on their birth certificates, however it depends on which judge and individual appears before. The Utah Supreme Court is currently deliberating a case involving a pair of transgender Utahns who were denied requests to change their gender markers and whether the approval policy should be the same throughout the state.