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Doctors and parents who care for trans kids could face life in prison under sick Idaho bill

Maggie Baska March 9, 2022
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Person holds a sign that reads "Protect trans kids"

Person holds a sign that reads "Protect trans kids". (Pexels)

Idaho lawmakers have advanced a bill criminalising gender-affirming care for trans youth.

The Idaho House approved legislation on Tuesday (8 March) that would make providing gender-affirming medical care to trans youth a felony charge punishable by up to life in prison.

House Bill 675 (HB 675) would expand a law that was established in 2019 to prevent “female genital mutilation” so that it also covers gender-affirming lower surgeries for young trans people.

It would also criminalise mastectomies, puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormone treatments. Generally, only puberty blockers are routinely made available to under-18s.

The bill would also make it a felony for anyone to transport or facilitate the “removal of a child from this state for the purpose of facilitating” gender-affirming healthcare.

A near party-line vote saw the bill advance through the Republican-controlled House with a 55-13 vote. Dr Fred Wood, a retired physician, was the only Republican to vote join the 12 Democrats and vote against the bill.

HB 675 now moves to the state Senate for debate.

Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), denounced lawmakers to trying to take away trans minors’ ability to “grow up feeling safe and respected for who they are”.

“Denying someone medically-necessary health care simply because you don’t approve of who they are is textbook discrimination,” Oakley said.

“Decisions about what kind of care is appropriate for young people should be left up to the young person and their parents, in consultation with health care professionals, not by politicians looking to score political points at the expense of the well-being of transgender youth.”

Democrat congresswoman Lauren Necochea, who became very emotional during the House debate, described trans youth as “so incredibly courageous”, Newsweek reported. She also acknowledged the mental and physical toll the bill has had on trans kids and their families.

“An Idaho doctor has had to assist three transgender youth related to their suicide attempts since this bill has been introduced,” she said. “We need to trust those parents and providers to make these deeply personal decisions.”

The legislation has been met with swift backlash online. Trans musician and activist Plastic Martyr spoke out against the Idaho bill as well as other anti-LGBT+ laws making their through other red states.

“The blood of trans & LGBTQ people is on your hands,” she tweeted. “These anti-trans & anti-gay laws are killing us.”

She compared the legislation to “ripping off a butterfly’s wings because it was ‘born a caterpillar’” and pleaded with lawmakers to “let us fly”.

The anti-trans bill follows Idaho lawmakers approving legislation that could result in steep fines and jail time for librarians and educators for providing “harmful” material to children.

After a long debate on Monday (7 March), the Idaho House voted 51-14 to pass House Bill 666 (HB 666), and it will now make its way through to the Senate.

If passed into law, the bill would remove exemptions protecting libraries, schools, museums, higher education institutions and their employees from “disseminating material that is harmful to minors”, the Idaho Capital Sun reported.

According to the Associated Press, anyone found guilty under the proposed legislation could face a $1,000 (£760) fine and up to a year in jail.

The proposed legislation doesn’t define what materials are considered “harmful” to minors, leaving it up to a broad interpretation.

During a public hearing on the bill, several supporters of the bill openly denounced books and material featuring LGBT+ content or characters. One parent claimed her “daughter’s innocence was violated” after encountering queer materials at the local library, the Idaho Capital Sun reported.

However, librarian Erin Kennedy described the bill as one step down the “slippery slope of censorship of constitutionally protected speech”.

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). ​Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.

 

 

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