BOISE, Idaho — After two days of emotional testimony on H.B. 500 -- or the trans student athletes bill sponsored by Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, and Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene -- the decision was finally made: the bill will head to the floor with a "do pass" recommendation. While Democratic members opposed, Idaho’s House State Affairs Committee voted on party lines today to advance it.
"I really appreciate the process. This has all been about preserving opportunities for girls and women in sports, and it's important. The state has an invested interest in doing this. I feel that we've done the right thing," said Ehardt, after the voice vote.
Democratic Assistant Minority Leader John McCrostie recently called the proposed legislation an effort to try to take the humanity of trans people.
Cricket Yager, who identifies as non-binary, says they attended Thursday morning's hearing to show support for the opposition. They say they feel the decision is "difficult to grapple with."
"I think the bill itself was pretty outrageous and it's oppressive. We have, like, centuries of violence against transgender people, and just queer people in general. My reaction is just kind of hopeless," said Yager.
H.B. 500 would ban transgender girls from playing on cisgender girls' high school and college sports teams. It would also subject them to physical examinations by a physician that would be used to determine gender. Rep. Elaine Smith, D-Pocatello, asked Ehardt if students would be subject to pelvic examinations; Ehardt said the process would glean information from non-invasive blood and urine samples.
"The invasive examinations that young athletes would be subjected to if this bill passes are barbaric and cruel, and violate an individual's privacy,” said Mistie Tolman, Idaho State Director of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii. “Trans athletes are complex athletes whose determination, will, and dedication to their sport should be celebrated, not shunned."
As we previously reported, reps from the office of the Idaho High School Activities Association (IHSSA) say they have a pre-existing policy on trans athletes in high school sports, which came to them from the National Federation of High Schools. That policy requires trans women athletes who wish to participate on girls' teams to receive hormone therapy for a year, under a doctor's care. After completing 12 months of hormones, trans women are allowed to play alongside the gender they identify with.
If Ehardt's bill is passed, it could create some pretty big complications for state colleges and universities in Idaho that are members of the NCAA. The NCAA also requires its members to allow transgender athletes to participate in sports that align with their gender identity.
Transgender men may do so immediately, but similar to the National Federation of High Schools, the law for trans women in the NCAA is that they must undergo testosterone suppression therapy for a year before competing.
As 6 On Your Side previously reported, another Republican lawmaker, Rep. Christy Zito, R-Hammett, introduced a bill this session that would ban doctors from even providing hormone treatments to people under 18, so 6 On Your Side will keep you updated on that -- as well as on Ehardt's bill.