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Gov. Little to have final say on transgender health care bill for Idaho youth


Gov. Little to have final say on transgender health care bill for Idaho youth

Mar 28, 2023 | 7:51 pm ET
By Mia Maldonado
Gov. Little to have final say on transgender health care bill for Idaho youth
Idaho Gov. Brad Little gives his State of the State speech in the House chambers of the State Capitol building on Jan. 9, 2023. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

Idaho Gov. Brad Little will have the final say on whether to criminalize gender-affirming care for transgender youth now that both legislative chambers approved an amended version of House Bill 71.  

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted 56-13 to move forward with the bill, with all 11 Democrats and two Republicans voting against it. 

Mountain Home Rep. Matthew Bundy and Pocatello Rep. Rick Cheatum were the Republicans to vote against the bill in the House.

The Idaho Senate previously voted in favor of the bill Monday in a 22-12 vote, and it now heads to Little’s desk where he can sign it into law, let it become law without his signature or veto it. 

The bill would ban transgender youth from receiving puberty blockers, hormones and surgeries. It would also make it a felony for any medical practitioner to help a minor seek gender-affirming treatment.

Legislative sponsor Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, said his faith encourages him to see only male and female, citing Genesis 1:27 in the Bible. 

“One of the most unloving things that you can do to an individual that is struggling in this area is to lie to them,” he said during the debate. 

Opponents of the bill expressed concern toward the mental health of transgender youth. 

“I urge you to put yourself in the shoes of these parents who are desperate, who are facing the possibility that their kid may not make it unless they get these medicines,” House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, said.

Rubel also said the Legislature plays a “dangerous game” when basing a legislation off religious reasons and that the legislation is inconsistent with the state’s respect for freedom and parental rights. 

“How can we take this option away from parents particularly when as I said (the gender-affirming care now given to Idaho youth is) overwhelmingly reversible?” Rubel said. “Endocrinologists have been administering these puberty blockers for decades without adverse effects.”

Rep. Steve Berch, D-Boise, said the bill would “deliberately hurt” those who do not identify as the sex they were assigned at birth.

“We heard a lot of concerns about how these medical treatments might harm or hurt or many people who are suffering from gender dysphoria, but I didn’t hear one person in favor of this bill express any concern about people who suffer from gender dysphoria and commit suicide,” he said.