‘Is it Worth it?’ Utah Community Protests Potential Trans Youth Sports Ban


Carlene Coombs

Protestors hold hearts towards transgender youth sitting on the steps of the Utah State Capitol on March 24, 2022. (Photo by Carlene Coombs | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


Two days after hearing the news that the Utah Legislature plans to override Gov. Spencer Cox’s veto of House Bill 11, the Utah Pride Center organized a rally supporting transgender youth.

On March 24, 30 hours after the event was announced, more than a thousand protestors met in front of the Utah State Capitol, holding pride flags and posters. 

H.B. 11 would ban transgender girls from playing sports aligning with their gender identity. 

Jay Evans, a transgender high school athlete, and Jessica Dummar, the co-CEO of the Utah Pride Center, introduced each speaker.

“There are not a lot of trans athletes out there but if there is even one person in Utah or four people in the whole U.S., that’s too many people who are being excluded from sports,” said Nico, a junior in high school who spoke at the protest.

High school senior Finn shared an original poem about being trans because “unless you’re trans, you have no clue what it’s like.” 

“It doesn’t have to be a rainbow flag next to the front door,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be the down payment or a scalpel in my chest. It doesn’t have to be the injection of hormones into my body. It just needs to be one word. Call me your son.”

On March 22, Gov. Spencer Cox vetoed H.B. 11. The veto override session is scheduled for March 25 at 1 p.m. MDT.

In order for the bill to take effect, two-thirds of the House and the Senate need to vote in favor of overriding Cox’s veto. Senate President Stuart Adams believes there are enough votes in each chamber to override the veto

Margaret Plumb, a trans-feminine person, has a simple message for the Utah Legislature: Is it worth it? 

“I’ve always wanted to play high school basketball, but I kind of never got the chance because I transitioned [in] my junior year in high school and I was just terrified of … the stigma people bring to it,” she said. 

Cox vetoed the bill because he believed it to have “several fundamental flaws” and that the acceptance that can come from being part of a sports community can reduce suicidality among trans youth. He also was concerned about the last-minute changes made to the bill without public input.

H.B. 11 originally was intended to have a commission which would give permission to transgender students to participate in sports after passing a physical evaluation

During the last hours of the legislative session, Sen. Dan McCay introduced a substitute to the original bill calling for a complete ban on transgender girls participating in sports matching their gender identity. 

Taryn Hiatt, the Utah and Nevada area director for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, said in a speech to the crowd that fear is what bred the hatred and ignorance that started the bill’s process. 

“That’s what we have to stand up against,” Hiatt said.

She added it is not the Utah way to pass legislation that requires more crisis services for LGBTQ+ youth. 

According to the National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered attempting suicide in 2020.

“Suicide will not take you,” Hiatt said, speaking directly to the transgender youth sitting on the steps below her. “You stay.” 

After Friday’s session, lawmakers will attend a special session to make sure Utah can financially handle a lawsuit if it were to occur in response to the passage of H.B. 11. The American Civil Liberties Union said they are prepared to engage in litigation for the protection of transgender student rights. 

Jennifer Plumb, an associate professor in the University of Utah School of Medicine and Pediatric Emergency Medicine, said when children do not feel welcome and loved, it is harder for them to develop and thrive. 

“I work in the emergency department at the Children’s Hospital and we don’t see kids come in because they lost the championship football game and they’re having a crisis,” she said after the protest to the Chronicle. “We do see kids come in because their family won’t accept them.”

Jennifer Plumb, Margaret Plumb’s mother, added that if the legislature truly cared about girls’ sports, they would build up the facilities and give equal resources and time to both girls’ and boys’ sports. 

As the mother of a transgender child, Jennifer Plumb said this legislation is both heartbreaking and frustrating. 

“People don’t understand, truly, the wisdom and bravery and beauty of this so resilient, so awake, so authentic population,” she said. 

Gesturing to the crowd, Hiatt told the youth on the steps to “look at us,” saying there are people who will stand with them. 

“We will fight for you,” she said. “You do not need to lead this fight. We as your community will do this shit for you.”


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