By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
The Idaho Senate passed a bill Monday to ban all gender-affirming medical care for transgender children in a 22-12 vote.
House Bill 71, dubbed the “Vulnerable Child Protection Act,” now heads back to the House for concurrence on an amendment made in the Senate.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lori Den Hartog, R-Meridian, would prohibit surgeries for transgender children, as well as the use of hormone blocking medications commonly referred to as puberty blockers, and a variety of other medications used for transgender therapies. The therapies would be allowed for medically verifiable disorders.
Should the bill pass, any person guilty of providing the care to a transgender child could be punished by up to 10 years in prison.
The House passed a similar bill last year, but the Senate declined to hear it. Last year’s bill carried a harsher penalty of life in prison.
Multiple legislators addressed the high rate of suicide among transgender people, while others focused on parental rights.
Sen. Linda Wright Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, said she met with the parents of transgender children in her district. After hearing “bill after bill” about parental rights this session, Wright Hartgen said, she couldn’t keep up with the flip-flopping in the body.
“I represent my entire district, not just the people like me,” Wright Hartgen said. “I represent them all.”
Gender dysphoria is medically diagnosed when a person’s experienced gender, or gender identity, does not match the gender associated with their biological sex at birth.
Sen. Treg Bernt, R-Meridian, said he has a relative who transitioned, and the legislation hit close for him.
“I will always favor parental rights,” he said. “And if I’m going to err, I will always err on the side of freedom.”
Sen. Ben Adams, R-Nampa, said gender dysphoria is a mental health disorder and should be treated as one. He compared it to his diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder after his time in Afghanistan.
“I was diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Post traumatic stress disorder. Combat operations in Afghanistan, and I was a wreck,” Adams said. “It took years and years and years and years of therapy. And not once did any of my physicians, my doctors, tell me, ‘You actually are still in Afghanistan when you wake up.’”
Adams argued the law needed to based on what is “real.”
Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, took issue with taking treatment options away from physicians.
“I’m sorry, but I trust the parents and the doctors more than I trust this Legislature to get this right,” said Ward-Engelking.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call the 988 crisis line for help.