Contextualizing Bill S.B. 16: Transgender Medical Treatments and Procedures

Contextualizing Bill S.B. 16: Transgender Medical Treatments and Procedures


In late January of 2023, the Utah State Legislature passed a bill that would, via an intricate series of definitions, amendments, and declarations, effectively prevent any minor from receiving gender-affirming medical care. Using this bill as a case study, my project seeks to elucidate a number of questions: How does the law interact with science, government, theory, and media to control bodily autonomy, specifically that of the trans body? How is this necessary context cloaked, misconstrued, and manipulated to benefit a political or theological agenda? And, most importantly, how does understanding this necessary context change the law’s relationship to the body?

The project is simultaneously a free-associative research endeavor and a conceptual art piece in the form of a Miro board (hypothetically, the work would work just as well printed in its entirety and displayed on a disproportionately large bulletin board). The bill acts as the nexus of the works that surround it, which feature medical journals, press releases, queer theory, and fringe think pieces. Importantly, these pages are only labeled with their given titles and are presented with no hierarchy. A press release from the Food and Drug Administration, for example, is not given any more pertinence or power than an article from The Jerusalem Post. This 1) mirrors the way the bill unilaterally utilizes sources regardless of their legitimacy to justify its existence and 2) attempts to circumvent any media-related biases viewers might bring to the table; In the space of this project, all sources are created equal. The board forms a cybertechnic web, highlighting the digital nature and flatness of the documents in contrast to the physical alive-ness of the bodies they reference.

This aesthetic performance of objectivity is immediately overturned by the highlighting that peppers each document, traces of my own subjective interests. Fundamentally, a casual viewer will not read each document in its entirety or understand its full context, instead trusting my hand in synthesizing the most relevant points. As an artist, I am relying on the same trust that the authors of this bill do; In order for the aesthetic performance of objectivity to succeed, the viewer must have faith that I have done the necessary research, read things in their entirety, and have thoroughly understood their context before making any claims (or developing legislation) on the subject. 

Concretely, the work displays how clearly scientific research (often unobjective to begin with) is recontextualized, how anecdotal evidence is taken as fact, how minors are utilized as ideological scapegoats, and how the digital aspect of these documents interacts with the limitations of the physical body. The work asks more questions than it answers. How objective are the systems of science, law, academia, and activism? Given that these systems have control over our bodies, how and who do we choose to trust?

A cybernetic web of documents on a Miro board, all emanating from the bill S B Sixteen
Transgender Medical Treatments and Procedures
All twenty six pages of S B Sixteen Transgender Medical Treatments and Procedures
A close up of pages seven and eight of S B Sixteen Transgender Medical Treatments and
A subsection of the document web, featuring several journal articles: “Puberty
Blockers for Gender Dysphoric Youth: A Lack of Sound Science,” “Revisiting the Effect of GnRH
Analogue Treatment on Bone Mineral Density in Young Adolescents with Gender Dysphoria,”
“Bone Mass in Young Adulthood Following Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Analog Treatment
and Cross-Sex Hormone Treatment in Adolescents with Gender Dysphoria,” “Risk of
Pseudotumor Cerebri Added to Labeling for Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Agonists,” and
“Would You Give Up on Orgasm?”
A subsection of the document web, featuring several articles: “Human Rights
Campaign Rebukes Utah Legislature for Advancing Ban on Gender Affirming Care for
Transgender Youth, Urges Governor Cov to Veto Harmful, Dangerous Measure,” “Few
Transgender Children Change Their Minds After Five Years, Study Finds,” and “The Courts Won’t
Free Us - Only We Can.”
Back to Top