RACE, RELIGION + SOCIAL JUSTICE

Trans woman makes history in Sanpete County with gender change

Jan 13, 2023, 1:00 PM | Updated: Jan 14, 2023, 2:35 pm
transgender...
FILE: East High School students hold transgender flags and pride flags during a protest in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 15, 2022. (Mengshin Lin/Deseret News)
(Mengshin Lin/Deseret News)

SANPETE COUNTY, Utah — Alysha Valerie Scarlett is the first person in Sanpete County to be legally granted a gender change. She presented her case to Judge Marvin Bagley Wednesday.

Gender change precedence 

Records as early as 1992 in Utah’s court system show only one other person in Sanpete County had ever made the request.

In 2015 that person’s petition was denied by Judge Bagley. The judge cited that the court would move forward once that person underwent gender-confirmation surgery.

Sue Robbins is on the Transgender Advisory Council with Equality Utah. She said the law didn’t require transgender-related surgery to grant a gender marker change in 2015.  

Since that hearing in Sanpete, the Supreme Court of Utah has heard another case that offered clearer guidance to judges.

In the hearing, “In the Matter of the Sex Change of Sean W. Childers-Gray,” the Utah Supreme Court ordered that anyone seeking a gender marker change would have to show that they were not making the change for a fraudulent purpose and must include proof of clinic care.  

Scarlett’s experience 

Scarlett was able to prove both of those at her hearing on Wednesday, so now her gender will be female on all her official documents.

Scarlett’s lawyer, Angela Elmore, said there are fewer people in rural counties and many of them might not feel comfortable coming out.

Elmore said that when she was filing on behalf of Scarlett, she didn’t receive any negativity from clerks. But, Elmore said many of them didn’t know how to respond to her questions about how the Sanpete County Court handles gender changes or what to expect at the hearing.

Scarlett said she’s identified as genderqueer since 2016, but started to transition publicly between 2017-2019. She said she has been dealing with gender dysphoria– a negative health effect someone experiences when the sex they are assigned at birth and their gender identity do not match.

“People have to understand it’s a matter of health,” Scarlett said. “This will definitely help me to not have those unhealthy reactions to being misgendered.”

Scarlett said she felt euphoric when the judge granted her petition.

“My doctor tells me I’m brave,” she said. “Other people have told me I’m brave. I’m happy if my bravery helps other people come out.”

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