The Idaho State Senate refused to advance a bill criminalizing gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. The bill, which passed the House last week on close to a party-line vote, would have made it a felony to provide gender-affirming health care or enable a minor to receive such care across state lines.
While the announcement was a win for the trans community in the state, Idaho Senate Republicans still used the opportunity to decry gender-affirming care as a whole. “The Idaho State Senate Majority Caucus strongly opposes any and all gender reassignment and surgical manipulation of the natural sex of minors,” the senators wrote in a statement, adding that the bill “undermines parental rights and allows the government to interfere in parents’ medical decision-making authority for their children.”
“We believe in parents’ rights and that the best decisions regarding medical treatment options for children are made by parents, with the benefit of their physician’s advice and expertise,” said the statement. Their problem with the bill, it seems, was not that they decided to support medically backed, scientifically proven to be effective gender-affirming care, but that the legislation could deny “medically necessary care for kids that is in no way related to transgender therapy, but serves children with highly specialized medical needs.”
This bill was one of many currently being argued in statehouses around the country that aim to limit or deny the availability of gender-affirming care to minors, which has been proven many times to be life-saving care for trans youth.
Texas governor, Gregg Abbott, made headlines earlier this month with a call that parents who allow their children to receive gender-affirming healthcare such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy should be investigated for child abuse. After weeks of confusion, investigations, and fear in Texas, the mandate was blocked by a state judge earlier this week.
Currently, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin lawmakers are arguing anti-trans bills similar to the one recently shot down in Idaho. The bill in Alabama could be passed into law as early as next week.
These bills fly in the face of the medical community’s consensus of gender-affirming care and its benefits at large. Several medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, support gender-affirming health care for minors. Studies have shown a positive correlation between gender-affirming care for trans youth and improved mental health, and a reduction in suicide risk.
In a letter to the National Governor’s Association (NGA) written last year in response to anti-trans legislation in Arkansas, the American Medical Association denounced the state’s interference with the medical care of trans youth, stating that gender-affirming care prohibition is “a dangerous governmental intrusion into the practice of medicine and will be detrimental to the health of transgender children across the country.”
Signed by James L. Madara, MD, CEO, and EVP of the American Medical Association, the letter went on to say, “It is imperative that transgender minors be given the opportunity to explore their gender identity under the safe and supportive care of a physician,” adding that anti-trans legislation, “is a dangerous intrusion into the practice of medicine and we strongly urge the NGA and its member governors to oppose these troubling bills.”
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