Idaho’s controversial transgender bill is another step closer to becoming law. Here’s how local lawmakers voted

BOISE, Idaho – Young people who are transgender in Idaho could soon see setbacks if they’re looking for gender-affirming surgeries or medications.

A bill is making its way through the Idaho legislature to ban transitional surgeries.

The legislature has already banned it for girls younger than 18, now this bill wants to amend it and add boys as well as more restrictions.

The Idaho House passed it with a large majority in favor, 55 to 13 against and two lawmakers absent.

“I support parental rights. I do not support child mutilation,” said Representative Ben Adams, (R) Idaho-13.

All local representatives in North Idaho voted in favor of the bill. This includes representatives in districts one, two, three and five, all making it clear they want to ban gender-affirming surgeries and medications for anyone younger than 18.

“If we do not allow minors to get tattoos, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or sign legal contracts, why would we allow them to make decisions to cut away healthy organs based on their feelings during puberty time?” asked Rep. Bruce Skaug, (R) Idaho-12.

The bill would make it so doctors, health professionals or anyone complicit in making it possible for young people to get transgender surgeries or puberty-blocking medications such as estrogen and testosterone, to face a felony charge. That person could also face a prison life sentence.

RELATED: Idaho House OKs gender reassignment surgery ban for minors

“We are going to make the doctors, and the nurses and the therapists and the parents who are desperate to keep their children alive, we’re going to make them felons,” said Rep. Ned Burns, (D) Idaho-26.

Representatives against the bill say if this bill passes, it could restrict kids who are transgender even more, make them feel more alone and face more mental health problems.

Skaug recommends more therapy to help kids, who he says are “gender confused.”

“This is a mental illness that needs to be treated, I think we can all agree on that. The psychologists, psychiatrists do,” he said. “How about old fashion counseling, talk therapy that’s been going on. Traditional psychology methods,” Skaug said.

Representative Ilana Rubel, (D) Idaho-18, says this is not an easy conversation and situation for parents who have kids considering transitional surgeries or taking medication to assist.

Rubel said she had a friend whose child was thinking about it. She questioned her friend about it, which Rubel feels it was inappropriate for her to ask if they were sure.

“This is a step that comes after thousands of hours of agonizing. There is no parent in the world who’s just finding a way to force sex-change treatments onto their kids. They do this because they realize after endless excruciating probing that this is what their child needs,” Rubel said.

She added that once her friend’s kid went through with the transitioning, it was like a “switch had flipped off.”

“It was amazing. The problem’s gone overnight. The depression, the suicidality. All the distractions and miseries were gone,” she said. “They went from an unbelievably troubled youth, who’d very likely made an attempt on their own life, to moving forward in life with total success.”

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

As state lawmakers consider the bill, the American Academy of Pediatrics has previously said it backs gender-affirming surgeries for people under 18. The American Medical Association also came out and said it’s against any legislation that would ban transitional surgeries.

4 News Now reached out to many different LGBTQIA+organizations in the Inland Northwest for this story. Some said they didn’t want to talk, however, Odyssey Youth Movement, an organization that serves the LGBTQIA+ Spokane community provided a statement:

What we can share as an LGBTQ+ youth service provider in neighboring Eastern WA is that ALL of these bills are harmful to the well being of Transgender and Non-Binary youth throughout our communities. There are bills being advanced and signed into law all across the country that block access for Transgender, Non-Binary, and Gender Expansive young folks to appropriate and necessary medical care, learning about their identity in school, or even playing on the sports team that aligns with their gender identity.  The practical negative impacts of these bills are many, and the ripple effects are long lasting. The lawmakers that are allowing this to happen in state legislatures across the country are making LGBTQ+, especially Transender youth, feel unseen, unimportant, and not a part of their communities.
While Odyssey walks alongside youth predominantly in WA state, specifically Spokane County, we know that impact of these bills crosses state lines and affects the mental health and sense of belonging for young people across our communities.

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