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Gov. Cox calls gender-affirming care "genital mutilation"

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) on Wednesday referred to gender-affirming care as “genital mutilation surgeries” during a talk at George Washington University in D.C.

State of play: Cox, the current chair of the National Governors Association, was at the speaking event to promote his year-long “Disagree Better” initiative to reduce partisan polarization through civil discourse.

  • During the discussion, Cox was asked how he could “disagree better” with transgender people after signing a law last year prohibiting gender-affirming care for transgender youth.
  • Unlike other states that have passed similar restrictions, Cox said he invited transgender youth to meet with legislative leaders last year at the Governor’s Mansion.

What they’re saying: “A trans kid kills themselves because they couldn’t access the gender-affirming care they needed. Do you think the parents of that kid would care that you had a conversation at the governor’s mansion about the legislation before you passed it?” a freshman student later asked Cox during a Q&A.

  • “First of all, no one in Utah has taken their life because there wasn’t gender-affirming care available,” Cox said, pushing back on the question.
  • “I want these kids to thrive. I want these kids to be successful. And I think there’s a better way to do that than having genital mutilation surgeries before they’re 18,” Cox said.

Reality check: Surgery is almost never recommended for trans minors and is reserved mainly for adult populations.

“Even before Utah’s moratorium on transgender medical care, genital surgeries for youth simply did not happen,” Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, an LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, said in a statement.

  • Williams encouraged leaders to use “factual and not inflammatory” language and challenged Cox to “be true to his Disagree Better initiative.”
  • Instead of shunning or blasting the governor, Williams said “we are going to invite him into deeper dialogue and face to face connection with LGBTQ Utahns. Because that’s the only way Americans are going to successfully navigate this polarized era.”

Catch up quick: Over the last two years, Cox has signed legislation restricting the rights of transgender Utahns, including a bill this year that prohibits transgender people from using restrooms and locker rooms in public facilities that align with their gender identity.

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