To join the other states that have passed anti-LGBT bills (including Florida), Idaho approved a bill that would send anyone who performs medical treatments for trans youth to life in prison. 

Yes, you read that right — life in prison.

It would make it a felony either to perform gender-affirming surgery on trans youth or to provide medication meant to block or delay the onset of puberty. This bill would also ban medical care for trans youth, or transporting a child to another state to receive the care.

"This bill is about protecting children, which is a legitimate state interest. We do that all of the time," the bill's lead sponsor, state Rep. Bruce Skaug (R), said according to The Hill. "We need to stop sterilizing and mutilating children under the age of 18. This bill is not about the adults or adult trans community at all. It is about children."

Skaug also compared transgender medical treatment to allowing children to get tattoos or drink alcohol.

Advocates were quick to defend trans rights.

"These bills do nothing to invest and protect Idaho youth and families, and Idahoans deserve better," Chase Strangio, the deputy director for transgender justice at the American Civil Liberties Union, said. "Criminalizing health care for transgender adolescents is counter to science, medicine and ethics and we stand ready to fight any attack on transgender youth and their families."

Advocates also pointed out specific provisions that include medicine meant to block or delay puberty shows that the bill goes far beyond a ban on surgery, The Hill reported. According to a study conducted by The Trevor Project, transgender and non-binary youth showed lower rates of depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts when they received gender-affirming hormone therapy.

Only one Republican, State Rep. Fred Wood — the only physician serving in the state House — voted with Democrats against the bill, according to The Hill.

The bill is now moving to the state Senate, where Republicans are in the majority. It’s unclear whether it will pass Idaho’s state Senate.


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