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International Transgender Visibility Day rally draws hundreds in Boise

The annual gathering was held as a way for people to share stories and celebrate the transgender community - while also speaking out against House Bill 71.

BOISE, Idaho — March 31 marks International Transgender Day of Visibility. To celebrate the day, people gathered at the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise to share their stories and advocate for LGBTQ rights. 

The event has been going on annually as a way for people to celebrate the transgender community.

But with H71 now on the governor's desk - which, if signed, would outlaw gender affirming care for minors; including puberty blockers, hormones, and surgeries - the event was also a rally to speak out against the bill.

"Gender affirming care sort of gave me a second chance at life," Lynn, a 16-year-old transgender girl said. 

That second chance is something Lynn and her father are grateful for. Lynn made the decision to transition after years of consideration. 

"It was not a spontaneous thing," Lynn said. "I knew what I was feeling, but didn't have the words to describe that until I found out what being trans was."

Shauna and Mike Jones have a transgender son named Beckett. They said gender affirming care saved his life. 

"We know our kid more than any of the representatives in that legislative body," Shauna Jones said. "We know our child and we know their needs."

They said the gender affirming care their son receives isn't just life saving - but life affirming.

"It's frustrating that the state is trying to get in the way of parents, and doctors and medical professionals - and taking away choices that they don't scrutinize in any other area of medicine," Mike said. "So, it definitely feels targeted and aggressive toward the trans community."

The bill has many in the transgender community questioning if they could stay in a state that outlaws the care they said is crucial.

"If things get really bad, we can leave the state. I am incredibly worried for my friends who can't," Lynn said. "I'm incredibly worried for my friends who are worried about being stuck here, not able to leave, but not able to access gender affirming care - or being taken from their parents, because their parents are now considered felons because they gave their kids the care that is medically proven to be the most effective - the one that made their child happy."

Opposing perspectives have shared their opinions on the bill throughout its time going through Idaho Legislature. 

"We're human beings, and would like to be treated like that - we're not some kind of freaks. We're just trying to live our lives and be ourselves like everybody else is," Drew Harenberg, the event's organizer said. 

About several hundred people showed up to the International Transgender Day of Visibility gathering in Boise on Friday. 

"Seeing everyone be able to share their stories and talk in a community that's accepting - and I see trans flags waving all around, it makes me really happy," Lynn said. "Because we're here, even though that the government doesn't like that we're here."

The bill was officially delivered to Gov. Brad Little's desk Thursday morning. He has five days to either sign it into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without approval by not signing it within five days.

If H71 becomes law, it would take effect on Jan. 1, 2024. 

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