Web Analytics Made Easy - Statcounter

Idaho moves to pass anti-Trans legislation

Share this Post:
Idaho moves to pass anti-Trans legislation

On Wednesday, March 9, Idaho House Bill 675 was passed by the state House of Representatives. The legislation, which has been branded "the Genital Mutilation of a Child Bill," will make it a felony for any adult in the state, including parents and doctors, to aid Transgender youth with age-appropriate, medically necessary, gender-affirming care.

The bill does not stop there but also criminalizes parents who cross state borders with their child to receive care. The maximum sentence for such actions would be life in prison.

The bill criminalizes operations such as top surgery or hysterectomy and also goes so far as to outlaw prescription hormone blockers and HRT.

HB 675 coincides with other restrictive proposed legislation, such as bills prohibiting discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools and a ban on Trans athletes competing in sports.

The proposed law has many questioning the constitutionality of criminalizing the crossing of state borders to receive care that is legal elsewhere. The constitution limits restrictions on interstate travel, so HB 675 would likely be challenged on a federal level if it became law.

Idaho Democrats hopeful bill will die in committee
Despite HB 675 passing through the state House of Representatives on strictly along party lines, some members of Idaho's state legislature are confident the bill will not survive long enough to be signed to law.

Rep. John McCrostie told the SGN he's optimistic the bill will not have enough time to be thoroughly considered by the state Senate. "I am hopeful that the Senate doesn't even give this horrible bill a hearing. As of today, we've only got nine more business days of our legislature, and that's as long as we need to hold out," he said. "Let's cross our fingers this stays in a drawer and doesn't see the light of day for the rest of the session."

Rep. John Gannon also believes the bill will not make it past the Senate. "Our Senate isn't going to consider it. It's too extreme for even the Republican-controlled Senate to consider," he said.

Damage may have already been done
While Reps. McCrostie and Gannon are hopeful the bill will not become law, other Idaho representatives say the damage has already been done.

"Just in the weeks since this law has been introduced, there have been three Trans kids in the area that attempted suicide. This risk is very, very real," Rep. Ilana Rubel told the SGN. "I am scared that this will result in the deaths of Trans youth. This bill is uniquely dangerous in that it makes [it] a life-sentence felony [to leave] the state to receive gender-affirming care. It forecloses the options for families living in Idaho to even leave the state," she said.

Many members of the Idaho state legislature find criminalizing citizens for crossing state borders to be an overly extreme measure. Rep. Colin Nash believes the bill will result in families deciding to leave Idaho permanently in order to support their children.

"I [voted against the bill] because it will put parents in prison for life for evidence-based medical care for Trans youth," Nash said. "I think it will have negative social impacts for Trans youth who were already at high suicide risk. People will not only seek care out of state but move out of state. It will hurt families that are just trying to do the best they can for their children."

"I think the whole law will be challenged," added Rubel. "I think the whole law runs afoul of the Equal Protection Clause. If it becomes a law, it won't survive a federal court challenge and will likely be struck down.

"But, frankly, even if it doesn't become a law, I think a lot of the damage has already been done... Even if it never becomes a law, it is extremely demoralizing to Trans youth and their families to have this kind of hateful legislation progress this far."

Some representatives' support of HB 675
I also spoke with representatives in support of the bill. When asked why they favored the harsh legislation, they echoed the rhetoric of Rep. Skaug, who introduced the bill to the House.

"If we do not allow minors to get tattoos, smoke cigarettes, and drink alcohol or sign legal contracts," Skaug said to the House on Wednesday, "why would we allow them to make decisions to cut away organs based on their feelings during puberty time?"

Some Republicans in support of the bill projected themselves onto Trans youth. For example, Rep. Ryan Kerby agreed with the harsh punishment of parents who seek to help their children transition because he would not have preferred this treatment in his youth. "[If] my parents would have done that to me, they would have deserved to go to prison," he said. "What this needs to be is a deterrent for people who want to do this stuff."

Rep. Tammy Nichols said she supported the bill because her district voiced its support to her. "I listen to my constituents, because that's who I represent, and so this is something that was concerning to my constituents, and of course, I am representing them, so that's my primary [reason for supporting the bill]," Nichols said.

However, her reasons for wanting to support the bill echoed Skaug's. "The second [reason] was wanting to protect children that are under 18 and still going through puberty. I have heard a lot of testimony on this issue in the past. There have been decisions that have been made while they were young that have not been beneficial for them in the long run," Nichols said.

"People transition young then work to transition back to their original gender," she said, "so for me, that's kind of a pause, and [I'd like to] work with children and get them through puberty before they make major changes to their bodies. In Idaho, you can't even get a tattoo without a parent's permission until you're 18; major changes to your body shouldn't be something that is [decided] until later on."

When further questioned about her comparison to tattoos, which Idaho does permit minors to receive as long as they have parental permission, Nichols backtracked. "Of course, a tattoo is something that does do something to your body, but it is not as invasive as taking off parts of your body, in my mind," she said.

"So, while that isn't equal as far as that goes, it just shows that we're not allowing children to make those decisions with a tattoo — now with their parent's permission at 16 — why would we allow them to make major decisions and do things like that when they're young?

"And a tattoo you can get laser treatment to get it removed, and a lot of those procedures that get done are not reversible," she said.

When asked about her knowledge of hormone blockers, which HB 675 also bans, Nichols responded, "Hormone blockers, you know, they get into your system, and it can take time to get out of your system. My concern is if you give those to young children, what kind of unintended consequences can happen when things don't develop properly because the hormones are being blocked?"

"Well, first of all, puberty blockers are reversible," countered Rep. Rubel. "When you stop taking them, puberty hits." She explained that while some of the procedures the bill bans are irreversible, so is puberty. Forcing Trans kids to experience puberty is not only detrimental to their mental health but also makes transitioning later in life challenging.

Medical opposition to HB 675
"They're forcing a young person into an irreversible situation and preventing them from taking reversible steps. It is a very difficult decision that is usually made with the family in concert with medical professionals," Rubel said of the decision to take hormone blockers.

"I have several friends whose children have gone through gender reassignment as a youth. Those decisions were made after a lifetime of gender dysphoria. These are young people who knew they were in the wrong body since they were toddlers, and they would never make this decision lightly. These decisions are made after many years of deep certainty."

Idaho Democrats believe that parents and doctors are best suited to make medical decisions about minors. Many choose to oppose the bill because it undermines the expertise of medical professionals.

Rep. Gannon was concerned about the bill's disregard for medical practice. He said he voted against the bill because it "was way too extreme and opposed by Idaho doctors [and] the American Medical Association, and it ignored accepted medical practice. This was so extreme [in] that it was dealing with treatment that wasn't surgical but was way beyond. It even purported to restrain treatment out of state."

Mental health effects on LGBTQ+ youth
When asked about what the implications this "deterrent" will have on the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth, Rep. Kerby said, "I don't have a comment at all."

Other conservatives, such as Rep. Nichols, were willing to consider the mental health impacts anti-Trans legislation has on kids. While she still supports the bill, Nichols did admit that children should have access to mental health resources, especially during puberty.

"I would say on the mental health part of things [that] children, when they're growing up and going through puberty, [are] dealing with a lot of things that are transpiring with their bodies and the social aspect of society," she said.

"Kids and teenagers have a lot of challenges, and there are a lot of issues that come about in the mental health [component], so we want to make sure that these kids are making decisions for themselves and that they are doing things after coming through this awkward time of life. When kids [have] mental health issues, they need to be treated and talk to a therapist. I don't think this constitutes permanent changes."

Democrats like Rubel believe the bill is incredibly detrimental to LGBTQ+ mental health. "I think it is potentially catastrophic; there are situations where young people suffer gender dysphoria and require medical treatment or have a high risk of suicide," Rubel said. "One of my colleagues said this bill puts a noose around the neck of Trans youth, and I don't think he exaggerated.

"Furthermore, it is outrageous that puberty blockers are included in this bill. Those are reversible, but puberty is not reversible. Forcing Trans youth to experience the full implications of puberty against their will has lifelong impacts that threaten the risk of their future mental health and treatment."

Republican hypocrisy on parental rights
Rep. McCrostie, who is the only openly LGBTQ+ member of the Idaho legislature, says the lack of empathy from conservatives will lead to harmful effects on Trans people in Idaho.

"It's a very harmful and hurtful piece of anti-Trans legislation," he said. "What it seeks to do is keep Trans youth from getting access to the meds they need as they are working out how to go through puberty, just like all teens go through, and this piece of legislation would prevent that. What's particularly harmful about the bill, though, is that it represents a fundamental misunderstanding of what Trans people experience. I think that was probably the most offensive part."

"At the end of the day, it doesn't accomplish any of the goals [conservatives] say [are] part of the bill. It is just an opportunity to make harmful statements against Transgender people without even recognizing the challenges Trans youth face," he continued. "In particular... what you will see is... [that they] will go across the border in the communities where you can do that. Those who are not going to be able to leave the state because their parents have jobs, you're just going to send Trans youth inside themselves to this very unsafe space, and I am worried about what their future might be."

McCrostie also pointed out the hypocrisy of the Republican-led bill. Over the last two years, Idaho Republicans have advocated for parental rights when it comes to making medical decisions for children, such as choosing not to vaccinate them. Now, they are flipping their stance and criminalizing parents who choose to help their children transition.

"I think part of that is just so antithetical to what some of my colleagues across the aisle continue to proclaim about top parental choice," he said. "The whole notion of criminalizing parents for taking care of their children is ludicrous."

McCrostie is not only a member of the State House of Representatives but also a teacher. He wants Idaho's LGBTQ+ students to know that they are still safe and loved by the adults in their community and that people are still fighting for their rights.

"I believe Trans youth and all LGBTQ+ youth are beautiful people and beautiful members of our community, and they deserve every opportunity to grow up and be progressive members of our community," he said. "They deserve the opportunity to live that long, so that they can make mistakes on their taxes and have their hearts broken, and all those other things that all of us just long to experience, all the ups and downs and in between. They just deserve a beautiful life, and I want them to get there."

Idaho Democrats are still fighting for Trans youth. Rep. Rubel says she will continue to oppose HB 675 and all other anti-LGBTQ+ bills brought forward.

"Every single Democrat here strongly opposed this bill. This is entirely being brought by Idaho Republicans, and I hope they know nobody among the Idaho Democrats would ever support such a monstrous piece of legislation."

She also says ordinary citizens can do their part to ensure the bill does not pass.

"I hope everybody will write to the Idaho Senate State of Affairs Committee and ask them to hold this bill in committee," she said. "The best thing we can hope is that this bill does not even get a hearing in the committee and dies. Contacting that committee is the best thing people can do to protect Transgender youth in Idaho.