Utah Passes Anti-Trans ‘Bathroom Bill’ Amid Strong Outcry

Salt Lake City — Hundreds gathered on the steps of the Utah State Capitol in late January to show support for queer and trans residents while the majority of legislators voted in favor of HB257, a bill crafted to exclude trans people from government-owned sex-designated “privacy spaces” such as bathrooms and locker rooms.

Rally-goers hold signs and respond to speakers at the January protest against HB257. Participants decried the law as an attack on trans and queer participation in public life.
Speakers address the crowd gathered on the Capitol steps, calling on lawmakers to abandon HB257 and protesters to support one another in the face of hardship.
Protesters participate in a sit-in against HB257 inside the Capitol on January 23. Community members organized against HB257 in the days leading up to the passage of the bill.
Protesters rally, chant, and listen to speakers outside of Utah’s House chambers January 23 while law makers debated HB257.
Hundreds gathered outside the Utah State Capitol January 25, 2024 to oppose HB257, a bill which restricts access to bathrooms and other “privacy spaces” on the basis of assigned sex.
Queer and trans youth line up on the Capitol steps to address the crowd and share how HB257 will affect their lives.

As originally written, the bill limited access to “privacy spaces,” including bathrooms, locker rooms and changing rooms, on the basis of sex assigned at birth inside any facility that receives state funding. After several rounds of debate and multiple revisions, the bill was adopted at the end of January.

The bill’s final language changed the restriction to apply only to government-owned facilities, though it included a harsher penalty for violating the law. Under the recently-signed law, violators can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.

Community members organized against the bill as it made its way through Utah’s legislature, often pointing out how broadly unpopular HB257 is.

Nick Arteaga with the Utah ACLU addressed the crowd gathered on January 25 to oppose HB257. “In those legislative rooms there are 40-plus people standing in line to give testimony opposing this harmful bill — there were only 8 in favor,” Arteaga said.

Rallygoers listened to speakers outside the Utah State Capitol who decried HB257 as an attack on trans people in Utah and beyond.

Speakers addressed the crowd on the Utah Capitol steps, pointing blame at state lawmakers for failing to address people’s needs in favor of scapegoating trans people.

Jakey Siolo, an organizer with the Nuanua Collective, a Utah-based social and support group for LGBTQ+ Pacific Islanders, accused Utah State Representative Kera Birkeland, who introduced HB257, of acting out of fear.

Queer and trans youth lined up on the capitol steps to speak to the crowd about how HB257 would impact them if passed.

“The Capitol will not save us — we will save us! We have power — they are terrified of us. They are scared shitless because they do not know what to do with the youth that will not stand down and that will stand with each other,” one community member told the crowd.

As the rally neared its end, the crowd called on Utah Governor Spencer Cox to veto HB257 if voted through in the State Senate.

As the crowd dispersed, a speaker announced that the Utah Senate approved HB257 on a third reading on January 25. The final votes on January 26 officially passed the bill, and then Governor Cox signed HB257 into law on January 30, 2024.

Protesters criticized the law as an effort to push trans people out of public life.

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