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Live Journal: Trans youth and community members share unheard testimony from anti-trans medical bill HB 675

Photo by Claire Keener
Editor’s Note: On Friday, March 4, the Idaho House State Affairs Committee passed House Bill 675, which would prohibit gender-affirming healthcare for trans people under 18, including hormone therapies, puberty blockers and surgical operations. Under the bill, which is an amendment to the state’s existing prohibition against child genital mutilation, physicians providing such care can be convicted of a felony.
At the committee, many opponents of the bill who were present were unable to testify. To provide a record of their opposition, The Arbiter is gathering and publishing their testimony, particularly from trans youth. If you or someone you know would like to submit testimony, please email blakehunter@boisestate.edu.

Lynn Thompson – Timberline High School student

“Hi, I’m Lynn Thomson, formerly Thurston. I am against the additions to House Bill 675, specifically the added C I, II and III which unfairly and unreasonably targets necessary care for trans youth.

I am against these harmful and unnecessary additions as they threaten my access to the care I and many others need and I have no clue how important trans medications are the same as genital mutilation.

My gender has been a struggle my entire life. Starting out well before I knew being trans was even a thing, as a kid I always felt more like a girl and would be a girl in any fictional escape or game I could.

After feeling initially comforted and a sense of belonging when I found out about the trans community, I would deny being trans to myself throughout middle school. During this time the feelings went from crying about not being born a girl to a hatred of my body. I hated showers and I especially hated mirrors or photos. 

I hated my name and I hated being called “he”. When it got bad enough, I was forced to confront the feelings and question if I was trans. After months, I concluded I am. I didn’t want to be, I would prefer not to be, but I am. I later came out to friends and brother, and on the Friday after, my parents and siblings.

We spoke to doctors and went to experts and I got counseling before we could get the care I needed. This is necessary in my opinion; I think you should be sure [that you are trans] before you start reversible treatment, but that you can be sure well before 18.

I have been on reversible puberty blockers for almost a year and estrogen for many months, both of which have helped greatly in finding hope for my future and estrogen helping me find the body I always needed. While there’s a long way to go in my transition (just listen to my voice) these have certainly helped so far.

The bill says to wait until you are 18, but this is far too late. Intervention with blockers near the beginning of puberty has significantly better results for a successful transition and very rarely results in regret, as a study on over 20k trans Americans concluded that only 8% ever felt the need to detransition and 62% of the 8% only detransitioned temporarily.

Blockers buy time for a 13-year-old trans kid until they have matured and thought it out enough at 15 or 16 to go through irreversible puberty or hormone treatment. I do not regret my transition; only how long it took me to realize, come out and start blockers.

The better results are incredibly important as every little masculine detail is magnified for us tenfold. Facial features and others such as hip width can’t be altered with hormones in late puberty but can earlier on. 

I can’t bring up being trans without bringing up social pressures. Online and even at my own school, I have heard people mocking and making fun of trans people and making jokes at our expense.

The trans suicide rate, especially amongst youths, is extremely high but drops to near standard levels when given the proper care and supportive environments. I got lucky to have access to trans care and to have supportive family and friends, I do not believe I would be alive without it.

On top of banning the care I need, these additions to the bill will only add fuel to the flames of transgender harassment. I myself have in the past received negative comments about being trans, and I know some kids who have even been bullied over it. 

We’re already under attack by our peers on top of the crushing weight of our dysphoria, this passing will give bullies the feeling of justification they need to hit even harder. 

Thank you for listening. Please vote against these additions. They will literally ruin my life.”


Anna Rift (they/them) – Boise State student

“Thank you Mr. Chairman. My name is Anna Rift, I’ve lived in Boise for close to a decade now, and I’m here to speak on behalf of myself as a transgender person. 

I don’t think even the authors of this bill would disagree that it’s difficult to be a transgender child. It bears repeating that trans teenagers are one of the most at-risk groups for suicidal behavior as well as bullying or even physical violence from peers and others in their lives. Access to medical options like hormone replacement therapy is quite literally lifesaving. 

HB 675 aims to take away these options and make the lives of trans people even more difficult. This bill, under the guise of concern about harm to children, attacks the medical freedom of trans youth. It is predicated on fear-mongering about children being subjected to medical procedures against their will or their best interests, but this is simply not occuring in the status quo. Not only is transgender healthcare already heavily gatekept, but it has hugely positive impact on the lives of trans people. Ironically enough, the bill makes an exception to allow for surgeries on children who are intersex, a group who is frequently subject to medically unnecessary surgery, without their consent, to force their bodies to align with societal expectations. This shows that the bill isn’t meant to help anyone except those who are uncomfortable with the idea of non-conformity in gender and sex. 

I came out as transgender when I was a student at Boise High School, and I can speak from my personal experience to say that if I was not able to access hormone replacement therapy as a minor, I probably would not be alive to speak to you today. It is not an exaggeration to say that the passing of HB 675 would end lives. I will give the authors of this bill the benefit of the doubt and assume this is not intentional.

Instead, I believe it comes from a place of discomfort with trans people, because we don’t fit into expectations for what a person should look like or act like. That discomfort is understandable. However, it cannot be allowed to be expressed in a way that harms us. 

In summary, this bill shamefully misrepresents an attack on trans youth as concern about the well-being of children, when really it is the very opposite. I hope, Mr. Chairman, that you and others present can see through this false concern for what it really is — a violent manifestation of discomfort with trans people. 

Thank you for your time. I stand open to any questions asked in good faith.”


Amy Nguyen (they/them) – Boise State student


Robin (she/her) – High school student

“My name is Robin [X], I use she/her pronouns. I am a senior at [X] High School. I am representing myself and fellow members of the trans-Idahoan community. Today, I testify in opposition to House Bill 675. I ask that the press refrain from releasing my name or image when quoting my testimony.

While I have many issues with the bill at hand, mainly that Gender Reassignment Surgeries are unheard of with children (typically barred till age 18), I would like to discuss further on the bill’s ban of gender-affirming hormone therapy (or GAHT).

trans testimony, Idaho HB 675
[Photo of a student donning a trans flag]
Photo by Claire Keener | The Arbiter

Puberty-Hormone Blockers are safe, reversible, and do NOT make you sterile. These are simply “fully reversible medications that put puberty on hold.”(1) Only at the older stages of adolescence is GAHT recommended when appropriate.(1) Affirming a child’s gender with such therapy has proven to be effective. “GAHT overwhelmingly seems to have positive psychological effects in both adolescents and adults. Research tends to support that GAHT reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, lowers perceived and social distress, and improves quality of life and self-esteem…”(2) Barring such therapies sets a dangerous precedent of government overreach, pressing into the sovereign liberty and autonomy of all Idahoans.

As an Idahoan who began both blockers and GAHT at age 17, I can confirm nothing but positive results, benefiting my wellbeing. When I gaze in a mirror, an ecstatic euphoria fills my body, with hints of confidence, comfort, and inexplicable joy knowing who I am! It is pivotal to defend and protect the wellbeing of Idaho adolescents, who depend on these life-saving medications to represent the Idahoan they have always been.

Governor Little recently affirmed that he wants to “make our state the place where our children and grandchildren choose to stay.”(3) Passing such harmful legislation that endangers the wellbeing of Idahoans goes directly against the voice and ideals of our great state.

In order to promote that inalienable right of the pursuit of happiness, to protect Idaho children and their wellbeing, and to halt the encroachment of an overbearing government into the sovereign autonomy of the people, I urge you all to vote in opposition to House Bill 675. Thank you, I will stand for any questions.”

Sources:

(1)Murchison, Gabe et al. “Supporting & Caring for Transgender Children.” Human Rights Campaign, Sept. 2016, www.hrc.org/resources/supporting-caring-for-transgender-children.

(2)McFarlane, Thomas et al. “Gender-affirming hormone therapy and the risk of sex hormone-dependent tumours in transgender individuals-A systematic review.” Clinical endocrinology vol. 89,6 (2018): 700-711. doi:10.1111/cen.13835

(3)Little, Brad. “Pic.twitter.com/1UZSEjbPd4.Twitter, Twitter, 1 Mar. 2022, twitter.com/GovernorLittle/status/1498769062314196992?s=20&t=U6z1rj6o4RY5JCT9eLkaVg.


Paisley Davis (they/them) – Boise State alum

“Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, my name is Paisley Davis and I am representing myself. I currently reside in Boise and have lived in Idaho for over 16 years.

I am in opposition of HB 675 for a number of reasons, but I believe that the main concern of this committee should be that 675 is an example of grievous government overreach. Regardless of where one may stand in reference to LGBT rights or the gender binary, it is simply not the place of the state to restrict decisions made between a child, their parents, and their doctor, especially when those decisions are supported by the majority of expert medical groups in this country. 

I know in the past several months, several of the representatives in this room have expressed their disapproval for COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates. They have cited that such policies are an infringement on an individual’s rights, freedom, and liberty. 

It brings me great disappointment that some of those same legislators have neglected to apply this rationale to all of the citizens they represent and all of their medical rights. 

I, of course, have other concerns as well. I question what authority those who are not practicing medical doctors have to make such decisions. 

I wonder what sets the treatment and procedures that trans youth undergo apart from others. Treatments which already cannot include gender reassignment surgery, assuming that is what the bill means when referring to “genital mutilation”, for a patient until the age of 18. 

What sets these expert-supported treatments apart from regular plastic surgery, other “medically-unnecessary procedures” such as rhinoplasty or breast augmentation? Plastic surgery that, incidentally, is currently legal to be performed on minors with parental consent, and I rarely see any talk about in our legislation. 

To finish, Mr. Chairman, I would like to quote Idaho Representative Bruce Skaug: “overarching government is the problem, not the solution.” I do not believe such a bill like HB 675 has a place here in Idaho, a state that continuously calls for a small, unobtrusive government, and prides itself as a home of freedom and liberty. 

Thank you for your time.”

Rachel Stewart – Trans woman from Emmett, Idaho

“I was a transgender youth. In my earliest memories, I knew this about myself, but as a child in the 1960’s, there was no language or resources to help my family understand what was going on with me. As a teenager, the possibility of hormone therapy was unknown to us. I was lucky to survive puberty and I prefer not to dwell on it and elaborate here, but suffice it to say that I was a suicide risk. Unless one has experienced gender dysphoria, I’m not sure that it’s possible to comprehend the confusion and depths of despair that one experiences.

“Data indicate that 82% of transgender individuals have considered killing themselves and 40% have attempted suicide, with suicidality highest among transgender youth.”— “Suicidality Among Transgender Youth: Elucidating the Role of Interpersonal Risk Factors,” National Library of Medicine

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32345113/

I survived because of the loving concern of parents who had no resources yet loved me unconditionally and affirmed me as a gender non-conforming young person. I’ve had a good and productive life and I’m thankful for who I am today. Yet I cannot fail to have some regret for the girl who never got to be. Thanks to the support of loving parents, I did manage to survive and even thrive. The lack of acceptance, understanding, and resources in my youth, though, mean that I never got to experience a full life as myself. And I’m one of the lucky ones. So many families have suffered loss, so many trans people struggle to survive because they didn’t have the support and resources that I found. I’m so thankful for the acceptance and resources that young people today have access to, and it is shameful and tragic that the Idaho state legislature is even considering taking away access to these resources.

“Gender-affirming medical care is recommended for transgender youth by the American Academy of Pediatricians and the Endocrine Society and is viewed by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as evidence-based patient care (AACAP, 2019; APA, 2021; Hembree et al., 2017; Rafferty, 2018). Research shows that gender-affirming care improves mental health and overall well-being for transgender people (Cornell, 2017), including youth.”—Prohibiting Gender-Affirming Medical Care for Youth,” UCLA School of Law Williams Institute

https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/bans-trans-youth-health-care/

“Claims that a transgender child would receive surgical or irreversible hormonal treatment do not reflect the reality of medical practice. The Endocrine Society’s Clinical Practice Guideline, which sets the standard of care for transgender individuals, recommends avoiding hormone therapy for transgender children prior to puberty. The guideline is co-sponsored by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, American Society of Andrology, European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology, European Society of Endocrinology, Pediatric Endocrine Society and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

Suppressing puberty is fully reversible, and it gives individuals experiencing gender incongruence more time to explore their options and to live out their gender identity before they undergo hormone or surgical treatment. Research has found puberty suppression in this population improves psychological functioning. Blocking pubertal hormones early in puberty also prevents a teenager from developing irreversible secondary sex characteristics, such as facial hair and breast growth.”—Endocrine Society urges policymakers to follow science on transgender health.

https://www.endocrine.org/news-and-advocacy/news-room/2019/transgender-custody-statement

Gender-affirming genital surgery for children under 18 years of age is a non-issue, as this also does not reflect the reality of medical practice.

“We suggest that clinicians delay gender-affirming genital surgery involving gonadectomy and/or hysterectomy until the patient is at least 18 years old or legal age of majority in his or her country.”—Endocrine Treatment of Gender-Dysphoric/Gender-Incongruent Persons: An Endocrine Society* Clinical Practice Guideline,” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/102/11/3869/4157558

Criminalizing the actions of loving parents, and interfering with the medical care decisions made between doctors, parents, and children is unconscionable. It’s obvious to me that this bill is part of a larger attempt to legislate transgender people out of existence. This is not possible, we will not and cannot cease to exist. Transgender people have always been here, and are simply becoming more visible because of greater understanding and acceptance.

Transgender people “lead both ordinary and extraordinary lives, pursuing their passions and contributing to their communities. Yet, the State and its amici paint a bleak picture of life as a transgender adult to support their view that the State can and should try to prevent adolescents from transitioning. This picture is not reality.”— https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/brief_of_trans_adults.pdf

I have been a taxpayer, voter, and contributing member of society here in Idaho since 1987. And I hope that I may continue to do so. But legislation such as HB675, if passed, will compel me and my family to consider whether Idaho continues to be a place in which we can live, prosper, and do business.”


Jen Blair – Mother from Eagle, Idaho

“Good morning, Chairman and Committee. 

I’m Jennifer Blair.  A mother of 4 from Eagle, Idaho.  District 14.   And I’ve been a member of the Mama Dragons organization for 8 years now.  This is an organization formed to help educate and support and empower the mothers of LGBTQ children. 

I am here today because I am adamantly opposed to HB 675.

Our family moved to Idaho 14 years ago with our 4 young children.  At that time, I would never have predicted that I would need to educate myself on any issues such as this.  But when my youngest child was 11 years old, we faced their first suicide attempt.  We have worked for the past 5 years with medical and mental health professionals to make sure they had the best chance to survive and then thrive in life.

When my husband finished his medical training we chose to settle and raise our family in Idaho.  One of the deciding factors was the fact that Idaho prioritized families and the ability of parents to raise their own children according to their own beliefs.  In Idaho, parents raise their own children when possible.  Not the government.

Now there is a risk that government is going to step between our child and the decisions we may need to make on their behalf.  A child who is finally thriving. 

I don’t know what the next health steps will be for our child.  But the option needs to be available for us to follow the advice of the professionals in the field and prayerfully decide according to our family’s values.

I know that you care about children.  Please do not seek to control the life of my happy and healthy teen.  Do not campaign to me about liberty and freedom and then remove ours.

Thank you for your time and I will stand for questions if there are any.”

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