Gender bill heads to Utah State Senate

SALT LAKE CITY - For two decades, Sue Robbins served in the U.S. Army.

“20 years in the U.S. Army, four years as a tank crew member,” said Robbins.

In 1999 she retired and began figuring out something she had always felt inside.

“In Utah is where I decided to transition my life from living as, appearing male to everybody to female as I felt on the inside,” said Robbins.

Legally changing her gender in Utah went well for Robbins, but that's not always the case.

“As I’ve talked to people around the state, what I’ve found is that some judges are granting petitions for gender change, some judges are denying petitions for gender change,” said Sen. Todd Weiler of Woods Cross.

Weiler says fifty-three people were granted a legal change in gender in Utah in 2017. However, the law for name and gender changes dates back to 1975.

“The legislature, since 1975, has remained silent,” said Weiler.

He believes it is time for the legislature to set guidelines so judges are not forced to legislate from the bench. It is a hot button topic that drew some surprising common ground at its introduction on Capitol Hill on Monday.

“We still need to let the judge judge,” said Gayle Ruzicka, a conservative activist and president of the Utah Eagle Forum. She joined with Equality Utah in opposing the bill, though on very different grounds. Ruzicka wants judges to maintain some discretion to address unforeseen issues. Equality Utah wants the language of the bill cleaned up so that anyone with a Utah birth certificate can meet clear guidelines and be certain their petition for a gender change will be granted.

The bill passed out of committee on Monday and heads to a the full senate for consideration.