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House committee advances bill banning youth transgender surgery, treatments

The intention of the bill is to stop children from making a permanent decision they may regret later in life, according to bill sponsor Rep. Bruce Skaug (R-Nampa).

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho House State Affairs Committee advanced House Bill 675 to the House floor after back-and-forth testimony Friday.

The bill bans gender affirmation surgery for any person under the age of 18. It also bans puberty-blockers and other hormone treatments intended to assist a gender transition.

The bill states: "… whoever knowingly engages in any of the following practices upon a child... shall be guilty of a felony."

Preston Thomson took time off work to testify against this bill in committee alongside his 15-year-old transgender daughter Lynn.

"It was never a question on whether we were going to support our child or not," Preston said. "She knows the headwinds that are against her."

Lynn missed her chance to testify due to time restrictions, but shared her testimony with KTVB.

"The feelings went from crying about not being born a girl, to a genuine hatred of my body," Lynn said. "I hated my name and I hated being called a 'he.' When it got bad enough, I was forced to confront my feelings and question if I was trans. After months, I concluded I am. I didn't want to be, I prefer not to be, but I am."

Lynn is not ready for a gender affirmation surgery, according to her father Preston. They do not know when that time will come, but in the meantime, access to blockers and hormones are a necessity, according to Lynn.

"We spoke to doctors and experts. I got the counseling before I got the care I needed. In my opinion, I think the counseling was necessary," Lynn said. "I think you should be sure before you start blockers. But I think you can be sure of this well before you turn 18. I got lucky to have access to trans care and have supportive family and friends. I do not believe I would be alive without it."

Bill sponsor Rep. Bruce Skaug (R-Nampa) told KTVB in an email his schedule was full and unavailable for an interview. However, the intention of the bill is to protect children who cannot yet make these kind of decision for themselves, according to Skaug's comments in committee.

"This is not a bill to take away treatment from these children that have gender dysphoria," Skaug said. "This is a bill to get proper treatment and give them lifelong permanent decisions that will make them sterile and mutilate their bodies."

Some public testimony backed Skaug's bill. A bill supporter, Billy Burleigh, identified himself as a former transgender person. Burleigh received transitional surgery and later regretted in life.

"Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw a man staring back at me," Burleigh said. "I tried hard to resolve the conflict, but I couldn't. The bottom line, the therapist and the medical community was wrong in my case."

Preston wishes people like Burleigh well and sympathizes with his position. However, that experience should not dictate what right's Lynn has access to under Idaho law, Preston said.

"It's kind of ironic, as Idaho claims to be pro-freedom, as they're trying to yank my rights as a father and my child's rights away," Preston said.

HB 675 now moves to the full Idaho House.

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