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Crowd packs Idaho Capitol hearing for gender surgery legislation

House Bill 465 would, in part, would make it a crime for anyone in Idaho to perform gender reconstructive surgery on anyone under 18.

BOISE, Idaho — It was a full house Tuesday afternoon in the House Judiciary, Rules and  Administration Committee.

Most people were there because of an interest in House Bill 465.

The bill, in part, would make it a crime for anyone in Idaho to perform gender reconstructive surgery on anyone under 18.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Christy Zito, she opened the discussion on the bill with a message.

"I just want everyone in this room to know that, I approach this with nothing but feelings of love and care and concern for everyone in this room," Zito said in committee. 

Critics say this is an attack on transgender rights.

Zito explained her motivation behind the bill.

"The goal here is to protect those who are under 18 from these procedures that are life altering and health threatening," Zito said.

Committee members are already speaking out on the bill, including Rep. Melissa Wintrow. 

"This is an infringement on freedom and it's an absolute overreach by government. So my colleagues who want to have a light touch on government are far overreaching into my own identity and who I want to be," Wintrow said.

Wintrow will eventually get to vote on the bill, but on this day, she heard concerns from the community as well as support for the bill. 

RELATED: 'We're people too': Transitioning Boise teen hopes lawmakers hear his story before voting on transgender bills

Hundreds of people were at the Statehouse Tuesday to protest the introduction of the bill, as well as House Bill 500. 

Because of that, several overflow rooms had to be setup by Capitol staffers. Dozens and dozens signed up to testify, most indicated they were against the legislation.

During the hearing Rep. Zito said gender dysphoria is a mental disorder and should be treated as such.

"If it's a mental disorder as listed in the diagnostics and statistics manual, then it should be treated as a mental disorder and not as a physical disorder," Zito said.

Wintrow said she simply disagrees with the legislation.  

"Everybody deserves an opportunity in this United States and Idaho to be who they want to be, and have the opportunity to succeed," Wintrow said.

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