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Idaho House votes to criminalize gender-affirming care for kids

Idaho House lawmakers
Posted at 3:30 PM, Feb 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-15 17:30:00-05

BOISE, Idaho — The House voted on Tuesday to make gender-affirming care for pediatric patients a felony.

House Bill 71 was introduced earlier this month and sponsored by Nampa Representative Bruce Skaug. The legislation will make it illegal for medical providers to offer puberty blockers, hormone therapies and transition-related surgery to minors as it relates to gender affirmation. The legislation exempts those patients under 18 who have life threatening conditions or those with a medically verifiable genetic disorder.

"This bill is about protecting children," Skaug said.

The vote tallied 58-12, with only one Republican voting against its passage. The bill will now be passed on to the senate.

Those opposed to the bill argue that transition-related surgeries are not the standard of care in Idaho, while puberty blockers and hormone therapy treatments can offer assistance to transgender minors before committing to surgical options.

The Idaho chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics opposes the legislation and released the following statement:

“Gender-affirming care is safe, well-studied, and, in many cases, lifesaving. As pediatricians caring for young Idahoans across the state, we are alarmed by the state legislature’s efforts to curtail this evidence-based care for our patients. H.B. 71 would criminalize gender-affirming care and prevent pediatricians from providing comprehensive care to youth with gender dysphoria – one of our most medically vulnerable patient populations."

If passed into law, H.B. 71 would be an unprecedented interference in the physician-patient relationship and would infringe on the rights of parents to work with medical professionals to decide the best care for their children. Idaho youth and their families deserve better.

Idaho politicians should reject H.B. 71 and leave medical decisions where they belong: in the hands of families and doctors. Pediatricians will not stop advocating for all our patients, especially those who are most medically vulnerable.”

AAP maintains that for young people who identify as transgender, studies show that gender-affirming care can reduce emotional distress, improve their sense of well-being and reduce the risk of suicide.