Cruel bid to ban trans healthcare for young people voted down – but another anti-trans bill is right behind it

Montana discrimination women's march

An anti-trans bill that would have banned gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth in Montana has been voted down, but another discriminatory bill could still go into law.

The Montana House of Representatives voted “no” to the harmful and discriminatory House Bill 113.

The proposed bill failed to clear the House of Representatives on Tuesday (26 January) with the final vote count 49 in favour, 51 opposed. It was the bill’s third and final reading. Five legislators – all Republicans – who supported it on its second reading changed their positions to oppose it.

HB 113 would have restricted healthcare professionals from providing gender-affirming care to trans minors. The bill stated: “A referral for or provision of gender transition procedures to a minor is considered unprofessional conduct”, and that healthcare providers found providing care to minors would be subject to discipline “by the appropriate licensing entity”.

It would also have banned doctors from offering transition-related care to trans minors, including hormones or puberty blockers.

Republican majority leader Sue Vinton voted in favour of HB 113 on Monday, but was among those to switch her stance during the final reading. She told the Montana Free Press the shift came after hearing the perspectives of transgender people, medical providers and family members concerned about the bill.

“[They] were quite passionate, as you can imagine, about the need to allow parents to make these personal decisions for their families,” she said. “And I learned, also, that it’s a continuum of care. The younger child doesn’t go into an immediate course [to transition]. It’s much more gradual, and it’s a much more involved decision-making process.”

However, celebrations were tempered by the Montana House of Representatives approving a separate anti-trans bill.

Anti-trans ‘Save Women’s Sports Act’ passes Montana House.

Legislators passed House Bill 112 – also known as the “Save Women’s Sports Act” – which would bar trans girls and women from participating in interscholastic teams that correspond to their gender identities. The bill passed on its third reading Wednesday (27 January).

Speaking before HB 113 was voted down Caitlin Borgmann, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana, said both bills would cause “irrevocable harm to trans youth” if passed into law.

“If these discriminatory bills pass, we will sue, and we will win,” Borgmann said. “Trying to defend laws in court that stigmatise and target trans youth doesn’t seem like a good use of taxpayer dollars to us.”

Montana state representative John Fuller (R-Kalispell) introduced both bills before the House. HB 112 allegedly provides “protection for educational institutions” by preventing state agencies and regulatory bodies from bringing legal action against schools that comply with the law.

The bill does not specify consequences for non-compliant institutions. But the proposal would allow students and schools who “suffer any direct or indirect harm” from trans inclusion to bring legal action against the supposed offenders.

Should the Montana State Legislature approve HB 112 and it be signed by Governor Greg Gianforte, it would go into effect potentially in July.