Idaho bill seeks to send physicians to jail for life if they provide gender-affirming care to youth

Idaho bill seeks to send physicians to jail for life if they provide gender-affirming care to youth

In the sea of anti-trans, hateful legislation coming from Republicans, it becomes all too easy to miss bills that aren’t getting the same mainstream media attention. One example comes to us out of Idaho, where the House State Affairs Committee recently approved House Bill 675, as reported by LGBTQ+ outlet them. The bill aims to add gender-affirming health care to an existing law that bans female genital mutilation, and would make it a felony for physicians to provide puberty blockers and hormones to people under 18. (It would also ban gender-affirming surgery on people under 18, but that is not generally done, anyway.)

Republican state Rep. Bruce Skaug sponsored the bill. In speaking to Boise State Public Radio, Skaug compared gender-affirming health care to a number of dangerous decisions, like getting a tattoo, drinking alcohol, and smoking cigarettes. “Why would we allow them to go through these physical mutilations because of their feelings at the time,” he said. Mind you, actual physicians and medical experts have long agreed gender-affirming health care is life-saving care. He is wrong, but sadly, he is not without power.

Here’s how the bill would work. HB 675 would essentially update a law that bans female genital mutilation surgeries on people under 18. This update would include surgeries like orchiectomies, hysterectomies, metoidioplasties, and more, which are not generally done on youth anyway. The bill would technically expand the law to include these surgeries on someone of any gender, not just cisgender girls. Again, these surgeries are not routinely done or even considered on youth. But puberty blockers, for example, are—and this bill seeks to ban those, too.

The bill makes it explicitly clear it’s intended to block care for youth experiencing gender dysphoria. In its statement of purpose, it reads in part: “This legislation would amend the existing state ban on female genital mutilation to also include puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and sex reassignment surgeries when administered to children struggling with gender dysphoria.”

For the curious, the bill allows for these surgeries to be done on intersex children regardless of whether or not the child consents to it. So, there’s an exception written in to perform these operations on children even if they don’t want it, with the goal of getting them to conform to societal norms … but young people who do want care that is far, far less invasive and permanent can’t get it. Got it.

“By voting yes on House Bill 675, you are voting to kill me and other kids just like me.” 16-year-old Eve Devitt, an openly trans girl, testified during the debate on the bill, as reported by The Advocate. Devitt shared that she lived with suicidal ideation and gender dysphoria.

College student Calvin Udall testified that the years before he received gender-affirming care “were the worst years” of his life. 

And for providers who are allies? They face some serious penalties if they go ahead and provide this care anyway. How serious? Felony charge serious. Health care professionals who provide gender-affirming care to youth could face a lifelong prison sentence. 

The bill heads to Idaho’s House of Representatives, where it is likely to pass.

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