As the GOP assault on transgender youth — and the families who support them — continues, Idaho is just one of the latest Republican-controlled states to pass an anti-LGBTQ bill.
Along party lines, the Idaho House passed HB 675 on March 8th. With 55 yes, 13 no, and 2 abstentions, this bill makes it a felony to administer, give permission to administer, or travel out of state to facilitate gender-affirming treatment. A violation of the law is punishable by up to life in prison.
This goes against medical reports that gender-affirming care is not only safe but vitally important.
Certified family physician Kelly Pennings and Daniel Flynn, a board-certified pediatrician, penned an op-ed together in the Idaho Capital Sun on the effects this legislation will have on transgender youth.
“As physicians who care for children, our primary responsibility is to support the health and well-being of all young people. House Bill 675 will cause deep irreparable harm to the children and families it claims to protect,” they wrote.
This sentiment has been echoed by physicians and medical organizations nationwide. The general consensus is that gender-affirming care is health care.
HB 675 is an amendment to RS 29495, an existing state law banning female genital mutilation.
The amendment removes the word ‘female’ from the previous legislation and goes on to say:
“Administering or supplying the following medications that induce profound, morphologic changes in the genitals of a child or induce transient or permanent infertility:”
“(i) puberty-blocking medication to stop or delay normal puberty; (ii) supraphysiological doses of testosterone to a female; or (iii) supraphysiological doses of estrogen to a male; or removing any otherwise healthy or non-diseased body parts or tissue.”
The verbiage likens gender-affirming hormone treatment to female circumcision.
GOP Representative Dr. Fred Wood was the sole Republican to vote with the Democratic dissenters against the passage of this bill.
Arguments in opposition were emotional, with representatives sharing personal stories of either themselves or those they knew, from attempted suicides to mental health struggles to the toll that legislation such as this takes on transgender youth and their loved ones.
In a tearful plea, Rep. Lauren Necochea (D) said:
“An Idaho doctor has had to assist three transgender youth related to their suicide attempts since this bill has been introduced. We need to trust those parents and providers to make these deeply personal decisions.”
But, according to Representative Marco Erickson (R), one of the co-sponsors of HB 675, parents aren’t to be trusted.
“We’re making a decision on medical practices, and we’re also talking about freedom of parents to make decisions. Well, I can tell you, I’ve served lots of parents who have made really bad decisions on behalf of their kids and have led them astray. …Parents don’t always make the perfect decisions on behalf of their kids,” Erickson said.
This, coming from the person whose entire platform when running in 2020, was that of parental autonomy and smaller government. When asked in an interview by the East Idaho News during his campaign to explain his governing philosophy, the Idaho Falls Republican had this to say about small government:
“Bottom line our party is not about regulation and bigger government. We are about allowing people the freedoms they were granted as American citizens through the Constitution. We know and understand that people are better at governing themselves and they do not need the government to control everything from healthcare, their wages. We trust everyday families and people to do what works for themselves.”
Did I mention he has a Master’s Degree in Psychology? With over 14 years experience in mental health, Erickson is also the Program Director for the teen center, Community Youth in Action.
I reached out to Rep. Erickson via email to get a statement on record explaining the 180-degree difference between his campaign statements and those regarding this bill.
I have yet to hear back.
The bill’s author, Rep. Bruce D. Skaug (R), has said HB 675 is about “protecting children” and “we do it all the time”. By “we,” he is referring to the state legislature.
If this is true, his colleague and fellow party member Rep. Julianne Young missed the talking point. According to Young who is from Bingham County just south of Idaho Falls, the bill isn’t about transgender children at all.
During the debate on the House floor, Young rebutted some comments made by her Democratic colleagues on the intent of the proposed legislation. As a staunchly pro-life Republican, Young added this:
“I see this conversation as an extension of the pro-life argument. We are not talking about the life of the child, but we are talking about the potential to give life to another generation.”
I made a call to Representative Young via the phone number listed on the official website of the Idaho Legislature, to ask her to elaborate on her statements. To my surprise, she answered personally.
Me: May I speak with Representative Julianne Young?
Young: This is she:
Me: Hello, my name is Ty Ross with Occupy Democrats. I was going over the recently passed House Bill 675, may I ask you a few questions?
Me: Your statement, that you consider this an extension of the pro-life argument. Would you elaborate on that?
Young: I made that statement in response to comments about parental rights. I am a strong supporter of parental rights. All people have a constitutional right to procreate. An unborn child has certain rights, including [the] right to life, not just limited to the rights of the parent.
Me: So, you consider gender-affirming treatment to be a violation of those rights?
Young: I believe it’s outside the parameters of parental decision-making.
Me: May I ask you about the punishment? Life in prison. Do you agree with that? Do you think it is too harsh?
Young: I can’t speak on that at this time.
Me: Thank you, Representative Young, for your time.
Young: Thank you, have a great afternoon.
My conversation with Representative Young confirms what many of us already know, this isn’t about protecting transgender youth, or trusting their parents to make the decisions best for them. Instead, the GOP is further encroaching on the rights of American citizens to make decisions they don’t agree with.
Click here to read the amended bill.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick