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Gov. Little signs into law healthcare ban for transgender minors

Idaho Governor Brad Little
James Dawson
/
Boise State Public Radio

Transgender people under the age of 18 in Idaho will no longer be able to get puberty blockers, hormone therapy or gender-confirmation surgery beginning next year.

Gov. Brad Little signed the bill into law Tuesday, writing in a letter that “…society plays a role in protecting minors from surgeries or treatments that can irreversibly damage their healthy bodies.”

“However, as policymakers we should take great caution whenever we consider allowing the government to interfere with loving parents and their decisions about what is best for their children,” Little wrote.

If convicted of violating the law, doctors in Idaho could face up to 10 years in prison.

The law has been three years in the making, with multiple attempts to pass it. Prior versions of the legislation would’ve levied sentences of up to life in prison for any doctor found guilty of the crime.

Idaho is the latest state in the country to pass such a law this year.

Conservatives argue banning these treatments – which have repeatedly been found by research to be effective at treating anxiety and depression caused by gender dysphoria – is necessary to maintain a child’s fertility.

“Gender-confused children need real help, not medically unnecessary drugs and procedures that result in lifelong harms,” Blaine Conzatti, president of the far-right Idaho Family Policy Center, which drafted the bill.

“We're grateful that Gov. Brad Little fulfilled his responsibility to protect vulnerable children struggling with gender dysphoria.”

Trans youth and their parents gave emotional testimony earlier this year as lawmakers debated the issue. Some said they would kill themselves should they no longer have access to their medication.

Legislators offered no exceptions for trans kids who are currently on puberty blockers or undergoing hormone therapy.

House Assistant Minority Leader Lauren Necochea (D-Boise), who’s also chair of the state Democratic Party, said she was “furious and heartbroken” at Little’s choice to sign the bill into law.

“He just took away the rights of loving parents to make medical decisions for their children and criminalized treatments proven to reduce suicidality among transgender youth,” Necochea said in a tweet.

The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2024.

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

Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio

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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