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Idaho Senate committee passes bills limiting gender definition and expression

Idaho Statehouse
Samantha Wright
Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee Friday passed two bills tightening the definition of gender and limiting gender expression.

The first equates sex and gender under Idaho law and says there are only two categories: “male” and “female.”

Sen. Ben Adams (R-Nampa), a bill sponsor, said the changes are to ensure Idaho laws “are based on objectivity, and not subjectivity.”

However, Dr. Jessica Rolynn, a family physician in southeast Idaho, said sex and gender are not binaries.

HB 421 reflects unawareness, ignorance, or disregard of medical and scientific understanding of the natural variation of human sex and gender,” she testified. “It leads to sex and gender policing and opens the door to sex verification, infringing on the rights and privacy of all Idahoans.”

Eleven people spoke against the bill on Friday. Only the Idaho Family Policy Center was in favor. Senators voted 5-4 to send the bill to the floor.

They voted the same way on a second bill that would make it illegal to force government employees, including teachers, to refer to people with their preferred pronouns.

“You cannot compel an individual to say what you want them to say, especially us as the government,” said Sen. Chris Trakel (R-Caldwell).

Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman, the Idaho Director of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, said the bills seek to erase transgender, nonbinary and intersex people in Idaho.

“LGBTQ+ Idahoans will continue to exist,” she said. And we won’t stop fighting for them to be seen as more than their reproductive capabilities. We are calling on the Senate to prove that your statements about disavowing discrimination this week weren’t hollow. We are calling on them to vote no on HB 421 and HB 538.”

Opponents to both bills said they likely violate the Constitution or federal civil rights statutes.

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.

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