Idaho Bill Would Make It a Felony for Parents to Help Trans Teens Get Gender-Affirming Health Care

The bill, which passed in Idaho's House of Representatives and will move to their Senate, also makes it illegal for parents or guardians to take trans kids out of state for care

trans union bill
People rally outside of the Idaho state capitol for transgender rights in 2020. Photo: Katherine Jones/Idaho Statesman/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Idaho's House of Representatives passed a bill that would make it a felony for anyone to help transgender children get gender-affirming health care and could lead to a sentence of life in prison.

The bill is one of the most restrictive yet in the U.S., as it also bars parents or guardians from taking a trans child out of state for care. Anyone who violates the law by giving children permission to get gender-affirming health care such as hormone therapy, puberty blockers and sex reassignment surgery would be punished and could face life in prison.

The bill, HB 675, passed in the House with all but one Republican voting in favor, and will now go to Idaho's Senate, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 28-7.

The bill is one of 29 different pieces of legislation that Republican-led state governments have introduced this year that restrict transgender children from getting health care. A few weeks earlier, in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott authorized the state's Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents who are allowing their transgender children to get gender-affirming surgeries, calling it a form of "child abuse."

Idaho's sponsor of the bill, Republican Rep. Bruce Skaug, cited Texas' decision in his arguments for the bill, and called being transgender a "mental illness," ABC News reported.

"We need to stop sterilizing and mutilating children under the age of 18," Skaug said. "This is a mental illness that needs to be treated."

In a counter argument, Democratic Rep. Ilana Rubel shared the story of a friend's child who transitioned and went from a troubled kid to a happy college student.

"This is obviously not a step that a family takes lightly," Rubel said. "This is a step that comes after literally thousands of hours of agonizing. There is no parent in the world who is just finding a way to force sex-change treatments on to their kids. They do this because they realize after endless excruciating probing that this is what their child needs."

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Major medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have said that gender-affirming medical care is a medically-necessary service for transgender kids.

The Human Rights Campaign decried Idaho's vote, calling it "textbook discrimination."

"Every kid in Idaho deserves the chance 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," Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley said in a statement. "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."

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