The Armed Queers Respond to Senate Bills with Reformed Approach

Olivia Hufford, Senior Editor

On Wednesday, February 1, a group gathered at the Utah State Capitol in strong protest of SB-16 and other proposed bills this legislative session that would affect the lives of transgender youth. 

Despite the frigid cold, with temperatures dipping below twenty degrees, the “Armed Queers” gathered in the dark during their passionate stand. 

As several speakers took to the steps to make their voice heard, a few participants wore something aside their jacket that signaled their membership with the Armed Queers: rifles and other weapons. 

A liberation group, the Armed Queers are a “socialist LGBTQ organization dedicated to the self-defense and self-determination of the peoples’ movement,” according to their Instagram page. 

Seth J, a member of the group who asked to withhold their last name, explained the motivation of the Armed Queers movement. 

“We are a community defense organization,” Seth said. “With the rise of fascism, it is no longer effective to remain on the sidelines unarmed and we believe that armed-led people’s movements protect ourselves and the community.”  

The organization cites six principles that capture their mission:

the defense of all oppressed people, movement towards a socialist society, trans liberation from the gender binary, housing as a human right, the end of prisons and police, and the start of radical queer organizing. 

Seth explained in brief terms what brought their group out to the Capitol that wintry night: 

“We’re responding to SB-16 which would deny affirming healthcare to trans kids. We want to show our solidarity in any way that we can.” 

SB-16 was proposed in response to alleged medical concerns on the effect of gender-affirming treatment in minors. It marks the start of an indefinite moratorium on hormone pills and a halt to gender transitioning surgeries for all minors in the state of Utah. 

Governor Cox signed on January 28 and, along with other supporters of the bill, stated that he believed it reasonable to hold this moratorium on all applicable treatments until further research on their effects is conducted. 

However, the bill does not contain language that applies the same moratorium to cosmetic surgeries on minors who are not seeking gender-affirming treatment. According to Utah Senator Nate Blouin, an amendment to SB-16 was proposed that would halt all cosmetic procedures on minors to – but it did not gain any traction. 

Those in opposition to the bill have stated that the inclusion of exclusively trans children is by nature unconstitutional, and Blouin emphasized that “there are much more important things the legislature should be focusing on [before banning hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgeries].” 

Utah became the first state this year to ban gender-affirming care for minors when the bill was signed by Governor Spencer Cox. 

As dozens gathered on the steps of the Capitol on February 1 – just after the bill was signed – a transgender individual delivered a speech, leaving a message for Utah lawmakers and the participants of that night’s protest:

“You want us to go away, but let me tell you, we’re not going anywhere.”