For the third year in a row, the Idaho Legislature is attempting to criminalize gender-affirming health care for people under the age of 18. This time, it comes in the form of an amendment to the state’s prohibition against female genital mutilation, making providing any form of health care for trans youth a felony.
This includes not only surgical operations, but hormone therapies and puberty blockers as well.
On Tuesday, March 8, the House of Representatives passed House Bill (HB) 675 55-13. The only Republican to vote against it, Dr. Fred Wood, R-Burley, is also the chamber’s only physician. The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration.
On March 4, the House State Affairs held a committee hearing to hear testimony about HB 675. Multiple young trans Idahoans testified that the treatments the bill would ban are necessary and life-saving.
“The generation of transgender youth ahead of me deserve the same medical treatment opportunities that I had, and this bill would make that impossible,” said Calvin Udall, a freshman Boise State sociology student.
Many other trans people signed up to testify against the bill but were unable to. Boise State senior computer science and mathematics double major Anna Rift said that the committee seemed to be selective about their testimony, providing disproportionate time for supporters of the bill, when almost all in-person testifiers were opponents.
“The representatives did not care to hear us, nor did they care if their position was even consistent,” Rift wrote in an email. “They just want us gone, no matter how they can accomplish that, even if it means denying medical care to children. Direct action and the internal strength of the trans community are the only things that matter.”
Representing Idaho physicians, Susie Keller, CEO of the Idaho Medical Association, testified that physicians have expressed concerns about the criminal ramifications of treating trans youth.
“It should not be a crime for a physician to provide health care,” Keller said.
In particular, many representatives focused on gender-affirming surgeries, labeling them mutilation, even though the primary care for trans youth is puberty blockers and hormone therapy, along with other forms of therapy. Lumping these together, Keller and other opponents said, is dangerous.
“I keep hearing opposition to surgery and acknowledge that that is not being done in Idaho, but this also goes further and would outlaw some of the treatment that is keeping our youth healthful,” Keller said.