What’s next for gender-affirming health care bans in Idaho

trans testimony, Idaho HB 675
Claire Keener | The Arbiter

On April 6, Gov. Brad Little signed HB 71 into law, a bill banning gender-affirming health care for minors. The bill will take effect on Jan 1, 2024, leaving many trans youth wondering, “What now?”

According to Javier Smith, a board member at the Idaho Community Center, despite the fact that the law will not go into effect until next year, many health care providers may stop providing treatment immediately to avoid potential legal challenges. Despite this, Smith believes the fight for access to health care for trans youth isn’t over. 

“Keep in mind that it’s been signed into law, but it’s going to be challenged in court,” Smith said. “This is gonna get sued because it can be easily challenged constitutionally. So in that respect, I think we will probably win in the courts.”

However, Smith notes that this legislation, and other anti-trans bills, push Idaho further into the Spiral of Injustice — a concept developed by the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights to illustrate the escalation from harmful rhetoric to eradication during the Holocaust. Since its development, human rights activists have applied the concept to other social justice issues. 

Smith notes that the harmful rhetoric defining trans people as “the other” has now escalated to the third level on the spiral: discrimination. According to the spiral of injustice theory, discrimination can embolden acts of violence against the group defined as “the other.”

Transgender individuals already face higher mortality rates than their cisgendered counterparts, and as the wave of anti-trans legislation continues, violence toward the trans community will likely increase.

[Local band Fleeting Confidence performed at a fundraiser hosted by the Boise Trans Collective.
Photo courtesy of Fleeting Confidence

In the meantime, local organizations such as the Idaho Community Center and Boise Trans Collective (BTC) are working to offer support to trans Idahoans. The Community Center has a queer youth group where young queer kids can come and speak about their experiences and seek support from their peers.

The Boise Trans Collective is a “grassroots mutual aid group” according to their founder, Ezra Howell. 

“We’re here to just help out the local trans community. Instead of donating to other organizations or foundations people can come to us with their needs,” Howell said. “And then we’ve also run shows where we do directly benefit someone.”

The Boise Trans Collective raised over $500 for a local community member’s surgery, and over $400 for another person’s hormone therapy.  

According to Peyton Shollenbarger, co-chair of the Boise Trans Collective, the Boise Trans Collective has given out over $4,700 dollars to local community members seeking aid. The BTC aims to assist the trans community in any way possible. They provide funds to help gain access to gender-affirming care for those over 18, and help people seeking to leave the state in light of the new bill. 

The BTC hosts multiple community and fundraising events for the local trans community. They recently hosted a trans clothing drive on April 16 and have hosted several concerts to fundraise. They also hope to host an art show in the future.

One of their most recent fundraising events was a concert where local bands Leaway and Fleeting Confidence played, along with Holy Pinto, a band from Milwaukee. 

All three bands stated they wanted to work with BTC because they care about the cause.

“They’re devastated by what’s been going on. So I think it’s really important for organizations like this to host stuff like this to create safe spaces for trans kids,” Randy McCurdy said, a Boise State student and the vocalist and guitarist for Leaway.

trans testimony, Idaho HB 675
[A student carries a transgender pride flag.]
Claire Keener | The Arbiter

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