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Republicans revive push to ban care for transgender kids

Lacey Daley
Boise State Public Radio

Rep. Bruce Skaug (R-Nampa) is reviving a bill he’s previously sponsored that would make it a felony to provide gender-affirming care to minors.

Introduced in the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee Tuesday afternoon, Skaug’s proposal, called the “Vulnerable Child Protection Act,” closely mirrors his past efforts.

Instead of potentially facing life in prison, though, doctors convicted of the crime could spend a maximum of 10 years in prison.

In addition to those performing sex-reassignment surgery, doctors who prescribe hormones and puberty blockers to treat kids with gender dysphoria would also be guilty under the bill.

“Children in Idaho are suffering from these procedures – so-called therapies – and having healthy body parts removed,” Skaug said.

It’s not immediately clear how many – if any – clinics in Idaho offer sex-reassignment surgery, especially for minors.

“If we as a people believe that laws should prevent children from smoking, drinking alcohol, getting tattoos, signing legal contracts, how can we possibly think it’s OK for that child to have these procedures on their bodies before they’re old enough to make those kinds of decisions?” he asked.

Trans youth who testified against the bill last year said such treatments for gender dysphoria have helped relieve them of suicidal thoughts and severe depression.

Skaug, who also chairs the committee, previously banned testimony by those under 18 without his approval. On Friday, he said he will allow such testimony with parental permission.

These therapies are also supported by a majority of major medical associations across the country, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.

Research into how gender-affirming treatments affect trans youth is limited.

A 2021 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found a relationship between receiving such therapy and lower rates of depression and suicide among trans youth.

Several states have enacted similar laws, including Utah just last week. Skaug’s bill still needs a public hearing before the entire House could vote on the measure.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!

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