By Christy Florence
“We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity.”
This quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. resonates deeply with me today. In 2020, Utah lawmakers have once again set out to target trans youth with ill-conceived and dangerous legislation that attempts to restrict survival opportunities for young people who are transgender.
My name is Christy Florence. I am an ally and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. I am one of the founders of the Mama Dragons. I am the parent of a transgender female. I am also the wife of a transgender male. I have a deep understanding of what is required to physically, medically and emotionally transition.
I have sat with families of transgender youth and heard their stories. I have sat with transgender youth themselves and listened to their struggles, and I have held them while they cried. I have sat with grieving parents as they struggle to obtain the life-saving care their kids need in order to start transition; but are met with insurmountable obstacles.
I have educated myself over the years so that I may better serve the community and help others with their journey.
Brad Daw is the member of the Utah House of Representatives who has been asked to propose this bill. He is my brother. He knows my daughter and he knows my husband; but he knows little to nothing of their journey. He knows little about the journey of any transgender individual and their family.
We have offered to be a resource for him and to help educate him on this important and sensitive issue. He has yet to take us up on the offer.
Many transgender youth struggle to receive basic medical care. Some families have lost the support of their loved ones and community. This legislation is unnecessary and punitive. It will cause harm to an already vulnerable and struggling population.
The medical community has provided competent boundaries and guidance to trans youth and their families. Permanent changes and/or surgeries are not recommended until a trans youth is an adult. Attempting to legislate into a space that the medical community is already handling very well doesn’t make sense.
Legislators are not doctors. We don’t need politicians making it harder for kids who are transgender and singling them out for increased bullying and harassment.
Research shows that transgender youth whose families support their gender identity have a 52 percent decrease in suicidal thoughts, a 48% decrease in suicide attempts, and significant increases in self-esteem and general health.
This bill would punish these supportive families. Parents would have to choose between the possibility of government prosecution or supporting the health and well-being of their transgender child.
Transgender rights are human rights. Let me repeat, transgender rights are human rights.
Brad, I implore you to leave the decisions of medical care to the parents and medical professionals. Trust the experts. They know what they are doing. These families know their children and what is very best for them.
When fighting for civil rights in the 1950s, Elizabeth Peratrovich proclaimed, “Asking you to give me equal rights implies that they are yours to give. Instead, I must demand that you stop trying to deny me the rights all people deserve.”
This statement is applicable in every way to the present situation not only is this wrong, but it also has the potential to be harmful and dangerous.
Denying best-practice medical care and support to transgender youth can be life-threatening. It has been shown to contribute to depression, social isolation, self-hatred, risk of self-harm, and suicidal behavior.
I ask all Utah politicians to reconsider. This is an opportunity to do the right thing and keep our precious children safe and happy, and to honor their beautiful diversity.
Christy Florence, Salt Lake City, is the Mama Dragon of a trans female and an LGBTQ+ advocate. This article first ran in The Salt Lake Tribune.