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Bill that bans youth transgender treatments in Idaho heads to Senate

"(Teens) aren't ready for that," the bill's author said. Opponents argued that it would lead to problems, and possibly deaths, among those wanting to transition.

BOISE, Idaho — House Bill 675 would prohibit gender confirmation medical treatment for anyone under the age of 18. The bill would place a ban on surgery, puberty blockers and hormone treatments that are used to assist in gender transition.

“This bill is about protecting children which is a legitimate state interest, we do that all of the time," said Rep. Bruce Skaug (R-Nampa). “We need to stop sterilizing and mutilating children under the age of 18. This bill is not about the adults or adult trans community at all; it is about children."

According to Skaug, author of HB 675, in 2019 the Legislature unanimously passed what is now Idaho Code 18-1506b, outlawing genital mutilation of a female child and imposing a felony penalty. Today he asked that the law be amended to include boys and girls.

"If we do not allow minors to get tattoos, smoke cigarettes, and drink alcohol or sign legal contracts why would we allow them to make decisions to cut away organs based on their feelings during puberty time,” Skaug said. "That's wrong, they're not ready for that.”

Some lawmakers think this would only delay the process for the trans youth, making the transitioning process potentially problematic as they get older.

"Allowing puberty to run its course changes the body in profound and irreversible ways,” said Representative Ilana Rubel (D-Boise). “Say you are doing a male-to-female transition whether you do that transition when you're 5-foot-7 or whether you do it when you are 6-foot-3 with giant shoulders and an Adam's apple, it's really going to impact you for the next 70 years of your life in how successful that transition is."

Bree Ladimer is a trans woman and student at Boise State University who says this bill will only harm trans youth. According to Ladimer, her hormone placement and puberty blockers changed her life for the better.

"Once you go through therapy, you figure out all these different things about yourself, things finally start making sense in hindsight and then taking that step to start hormone replacement or puberty blockers, at that point, I feel like you are more sure about your identity than you have been in your entire life,” Ladimer said.

Ladimer worries that if experts and parents don’t listen to trans youth and give them the opportunity of choice, more suicides will occur.

"When they bring that to their parents and their therapists and their doctors saying, 'I know who I am now and I want to pursue this path,' that's when we really need to listen, because a lot of the times those kids aren't going to make it to 18 if that's the choice they want to make,” she said.

However, some lawmakers believe this bill could save the youth and their parents from making a decision they could regret in years to come.

"Parents don't always make the perfect decision on behalf of their kids and this would be one of those cases. I wouldn't recommend having his kind of decision. It's a terrible thing to have to go through. I have a lot of empathy for the families, but at the same time, I want to express that I also don't feel that kids are cognitively ready to make those kind of decision,” said Rep. Marco Erickson (R-Idaho Falls).

House Bill 675 passed on the House floor Tuesday by a vote of 55-13. Rep. Fred Wood (R-Burley) joined all 12 Democrats in voting against the bill. Rep. Scott Syme (R-Caldwell) and Rep. Julie Yamamoto (R-Caldwell) were absent and did not cast votes. The bill now heads to the Senate.

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