Utah Governor Spencer Cox has signed legislation barring people who identify as transgender from using bathrooms and locker rooms in schools and government buildings that do not correspond with their biological sex.
The bill changed the legal definitions of “female” and “male” to explicitly state that it means a person's reproductive organs of their birth.
There is an exception for individuals who can prove they have had sex change surgery and changed the sex on their birth certificate.
“We want public facilities that are safe and accommodating for everyone, and this bill increases privacy protections for all,” Governor Cox said in a statement about the legislation.
Public facilities include courthouses, libraries, recreation centers, airports, and certain sports arenas.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports:
The Republican-led Legislature passed the bill on Friday, only 11 days into its annual session, with leaders in both the Utah Senate and House signing the bill on Monday. According to the Utah Consitution, Cox had 10 days to sign or veto the bill, or it would become law without his say.
The new law includes criminal penalties for using locker rooms, showers, and dressing rooms meant for the opposite sex. It also has penalties for people who loiter in the wrong restroom “if the actor intentionally or knowingly remains unlawfully.”
“Going into a bathroom that is not consistent with your birth gender, or your birth sex, you are putting yourself at greater risk,” the bill’s Senate sponsor, Republican Sen. Dan McCay of Riverton, said during a press conference on Friday after the bill passed. “I think that’s the best way for everybody to look at it and say, ‘How do I avoid risk? How do I avoid risk of arrest?’”
Schools will now be required to develop "privacy plans" with students who identify as transgender. This will involve determining an alternative place for them to use the restroom, such as a faculty facility or single-occupant bathroom.
The American Civil Liberties Union opposed the law and urged the governor to veto the bill.
“This bill perpetuates discrimination, needlessly imposes barriers to the everyday needs of people in Utah, and risks harmful and discriminatory enforcement against transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah wrote in an open letter to Governor Cox before he signed it into law.
“All it does is invite scrutiny of people who are transgender or perceived to be transgender when they are lawfully going about their lives,” the letter continued.
Utah Republican Rep. Kera Birkeland, the bill's primary sponsor, said that the bill was important to protect girls from bad actors.