Adobe Stock
A Utah legislative panel on Wednesday rejected a draft proposal that would set guidelines for how Utahns can legally change their gender in the courts.

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah legislative panel on Wednesday rejected a draft proposal that would set guidelines for how Utahns can legally change their gender in the courts.

A majority of members on the Judiciary Interim Committee voted down the measure Wednesday.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Todd Weiler, says people long have petitioned courts to have their gender changed on their birth certificates, but judges weighing the cases lack guidance from the Legislature.

Judges receive about 50 to 70 such requests a year, the Woods Cross Republican told the panel. His measure would allow those 15 and older to file a petition seeking the change.

The Utah Supreme Court is now weighing a case from two Utahns who sought new documents matching their gender identity but were denied.

Rep. Brian Green, R-Pleasant Grove, questioned whether teens should be able to do so before they legally are adults. But anyone under 18 must have approval from their parents to have their case heard, said attorney Chris Wharton.

1 comment on this story

Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, was among those who voted no.

"The trend of society is to eliminate and erase gender distinctions," Nelson said. "And we should not, as policymakers, facilitate that change in society."

Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said judges are already granting and denying the requests and the measure would provide them direction.

A similar bill last year failed following emotional debate. Weiler said after the hearing that it may be three or four years before his colleagues approve the measure.