Idaho is one step closer to passing a law that would make transgender medical operations on minors a felony, and LGBTQ advocates are expressing their outrage.
The bill goes to a full state House vote after being passed by a House committee Tuesday.
If passed, the law says anyone caught prescribing hormones or puberty blockers or performing gender reassignment operations on minors could be punished by life in prison.
Republican State Rep. Bruce Skaug sponsored the bill and said that instead of seeking irreversible surgery, children experiencing gender dysphoria should seek mental health treatment instead.
“It’s a bill to get proper treatment and to prevent them from lifelong, permanent decisions that will make them sterile and mutilate their bodies,” he explained.
“If we do not allow minors to get a tattoo, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, sign a legal contract, why would we allow them to go through these physical mutilations because of their feelings at the time,” Skaug said.
The legislation would be an amendment to a previously passed law that bans child genital mutilation.
Billy Burleigh, a former transgender person, supported the bill because he had undergone transitional surgery he later regretted.
“Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw a man staring back at me,” Burleigh said. “I tried hard to resolve the conflict, but I couldn’t. The bottom line, the therapist and the medical community was wrong in my case.”
The legislation makes exceptions for the rare cases of birth defects or chromosomal disorders.
The Human Rights Campaign opposed the bill and called on the state Senate to vote against the ban.
“Every kid in Idaho deserves the chance to grow up feeling safe and respected for who they are. Denying someone medically-necessary health care simply because you don’t approve of who they are is textbook discrimination,” the organization said in a lengthy statement.
If the state passes the bill, Idaho will become the fourth state to outlaw such treatments for minors. Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas have all passed similar legislation and those are facing challenges in court.
Here’s more about the transgender bill:
Idaho bill to prohibit gender-confirmation treatment