Who's Your Daddy

Trans kids matter

Every couple of weeks or so, I undertake the arduous task of dusting my home office. Yeah, I should do it more frequently, but it’s a pain. Mostly because the bookshelves are covered with tchotchkes. A lot of these knickknacks are souvenirs from past vacations — the miniature St. Basil’s Cathedral we brought back from Moscow in 1989, or the incredibly delicate Barro Negro pottery that amazingly has survived for 25 years since we were in Oaxaca.

They also house my diplomas and a couple of awards I’ve been privileged to have received, including my first QSaltLake FABBY Award. And nestled among the other items on a shelf is the award of which I am the most proud. It’s a six-inch plastic gold man on a small pedestal reminiscent of the Oscar statue with a homemade label reading “Worlds Greatest Daddy” — complete with the incorrect punctuation — proudly presented to me by my sons when they were very young.

Now, most days, I personally don’t think I would even be nominated in any great parent category. But I have spent the past nearly 20 years of my life trying to do what is best for my boys.

That’s why I am so angry that the Utah Legislature passed, and Governor Cox signed into law, legislation banning gender-affirming care for minors. Because parents of trans kids across the state are doing exactly what Kelly and I have always tried to do — what’s best for their kids.

This law enrages me for two reasons. First, it puts trans kids’ lives in danger. Secondly, it inserts government into private medical decisions.

According to The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth 13–24 have seriously considered suicide. More than half! However, those LGBTQ youth who experience “high social support from their family” attempt suicide at less than half the rate of those who do not enjoy that support. And guess what? Less than one in three transgender and nonbinary kids find their homes to be gender-affirming.

The kicker? Those youth that say they live in a community that is accepting of LGBTQ people also have “significantly lower rates of suicide attempts than those who live in communities that these kids view as hostile to them.” How do these kids view the Beehive State now?

Then there’s the blatant hypocrisy of the legislators and the governor. These are the same people who pride themselves on defending Utah families, in fighting for parents’ rights to be free from governmental interference. But when it comes to parents and a child’s doctor determining the best medical care for trans kids, suddenly neither father nor mother knows best.

In a statement about his decision to make this terrible legislation the law of the land, Gov. Cox wrote, “While we understand our words will be of little comfort to those who disagree with us, we sincerely hope that we can treat our transgender families with more love and respect as we work to better understand the science and consequences behind these procedures.”

The only problem with that seemingly empathetic comment is that it’s impossible to say you treat families with transgender kids with love and respect when the actions you take prove otherwise. Passing legislation out of fear and ignorance isn’t good governing.

Over the years, I know there were plenty of times that the boys wished they could rescind that World’s Best Daddy award. But I also know they’ve never doubted that as their parent I’ve always done what was best for them. I only wish Utah’s leaders would let the parents of trans kids do the same.

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