Idaho’s house of representatives has passed a bill that would criminalize gender-affirming medical procedures for transgender youth and make it a felony punishable by life imprisonment for anyone who helps a child travel across state lines to gender-affirming healthcare.
The bill, approved on Tuesday, targets medical measures that include vasectomy, hysterectomy, mastectomy, puberty-blocking medication and supraphysiological doses of testosterone or estrogen.
The bill will now move on to the state’s Republican-controlled senate. If approved, the Republican governor, Brad Little, could either sign it into law or veto it.
“Whoever knowingly removes or causes, permits, or facilitates the removal of a child from this state for the purpose of facilitating any act prohibited … by this section shall be guilty of a felony,” the bill states. “Any person convicted of a violation … shall be guilty of a felony and shall be imprisoned in the state prison for a term of not more than life.”
Civil rights and LGBTQ+ advocacy campaigns condemned the proposed bill.
“By making it impossible for doctors to provide care for their patients, transgender youth are denied the age-appropriate, best practice, medically necessary, gender-affirming care that a new study just found reduces the risk of moderate or severe depression by 60% and suicidality by 73%,” Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group, said.
“Bills like HB 675 are being pushed across the country by well-funded, national, anti-trans groups to mobilize their political base,” Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said. “These bills do nothing to invest and protect Idaho youth and families and Idahoans deserve better.”
According to a 2019 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 2% of high school students identified as trans, and 35% had attempted suicide in the previous year.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills are currently under consideration in state legislatures across the country.
State representative Bruce Skaug, the bill’s lead sponsor, said that the bill was “about protecting children”. He also compared gender-affirming treatments to minors drinking alcohol and getting tattoos.
The bill passed with a near party-line vote, with Republicans winning by 55-13. Dr Fred Wood, the House’s only physician, joined 12 Democrats in voting against the bill.
“Our transgender youth are so incredibly courageous, and I know how stressful it has been for transgender youth and their families as they’ve watched this bill move through this body,” said the Democratic representative Lauren Neocochea during its debate.
“An Idaho doctor has had to assist three transgender youth related to their suicide attempts since this bill has been introduced. We need to trust those parents and providers to make these deeply personal decisions,” she added.
The Idaho vote comes as the Florida senate also passed a bill on Tuesday which forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.
Last week, a Texas judge blocked the state from investigating the parents of a trans teenager over gender-affirming treatments after the order by the Republican governor, Greg Abbott, that officials look into reports of such treatments as abuse.