On Tuesday, the Idaho state House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would prohibit parents, doctors and other medical personnel from helping transgender children in the state receive gender-affirming health care.
The bill would charge anyone who helped to facilitate such treatment with a felony crime, with a punishment of a life sentence in prison if they are found guilty. The same punishment would be imposed on parents and doctors if they assisted in getting a child gender-affirming treatments by traveling to states outside of Idaho.
The Republican-controlled legislative chamber voted 55 to 13 to advance the bill to the state Senate. Only one Republican lawmaker, a former physician, voted against its passage.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bruce Skaug (R), has cynically claimed that the legislation is about keeping children safe, peddling false information about the nature of gender-affirming treatment.
“This bill is about protecting children, which is a legitimate state interest. We need to stop sterilizing and mutilating children under the age of 18,” Skaug said.
In reality, gender-affirming care for transgender children never involves surgery, and effects from medication prescribed by doctors are reversible.
The Idaho bill is the latest of a number of anti-LGBTQ bills and policies that have been introduced by Republican lawmakers across the U.S. In Texas, for example, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an executive order wrongly equating gender-affirming care to child abuse, requiring state agencies to investigate families if they are suspected of providing trans or nonbinary kids with doctor-approved treatments.
Of course, gender-affirming care is far from abuse; research shows that such treatment is beneficial and can even be life-saving for trans or nonbinary people, including children.
In a joint letter signed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Physicians, the American Osteopathic Association, and the American Psychiatric Association, the groups noted that they would “not stand for any efforts that discriminate against transgender and gender-diverse individuals and cause harm to their health and well-being.”
“We will continue to advocate to ensure their health needs are met and supported, not put in danger,” they added.
Transgender activists on social media decried the Idaho bill, as well as other efforts to restrict potentially life-saving health care options for trans and nonbinary children.
“When are y’all gonna realize these aren’t isolated, state-specific problems? This is a coordinated, nationwide attack against trans people,” wrote Twitter trans activist @ItsChloeNow.
“Dear Idaho, Florida, Texas…etc. The blood of trans & LGBTQ people is on your hands!” said singer and trans activist Plastic Martyr. “These anti-trans & anti-gay laws are killing us. It’s like ripping off a butterfly’s wings because it was ‘born a caterpillar.'”
Chase Strangio, a lawyer and trans rights activist based in New York, encouraged his followers to call up their state legislatures to oppose bills to limit gender-affirming care and other encroachments on LGBTQ lives. “These deadly bills have to be stopped,” he said.
Author and activist Parker Malloy also spoke out against the Idaho bill and other anti-LGBTQ actions, noting that some of the blame lay with Democrats and other supposed allies who didn’t do more to stop Republicans from introducing such measures.
“This is what happens when one political party decides to go all-in on demonizing a group of people while the other party can barely bring itself to say, ‘No, this is bad,’ let alone actually *do* something about it,” Malloy said.
“It’s all so very, extremely frustrating and sad,” Malloy added.