Idaho Republicans – yes, Republicans – block cruel bill attacking trans healthcare

Person stands up during a protest with a sign reading "protect trans youth" in the background

Republican lawmakers in Idaho have killed a bill that would have criminalised doctors and parents who helped trans kids receive gender-affirming treatment. 

The reviled bill, House Bill 675 (HB 675), would have made it a felony to provide gender-affirming medical care to trans minors in the state. Under the bill, anyone who provided or knowingly gave permission for a young trans person to receive gender-affirming surgeries or treatments could have faced life in prison. 

It would have also made it a felony for anyone to transport or facilitate the “removal of a child” from Idaho for the “purpose of facilitating” gender-affirming healthcare. 

HB 675 passed through the state’s Republican-controlled House with a 55-13 vote earlier this month. 

However, the bill has shockingly died at the hands of Republicans in the Idaho Senate after the proposed legislation sparked international outcry. 

Leaders from the Idaho Senate Republicans released a statement late on Tuesday (15 March) saying it would not move forward with the bill despite it “strongly” opposing “any and all” gender-affirming care for trans youth. 

The group said HB 675 as it would ultimately undermine “parental rights” and allow the “government to interfere in parents’ medical decision-making authority for their children”. 

“We believe in parents’ rights and that the best decisions regarding medical treatment options for children are made by parents, with the benefit of their physician’s advice and expertise,” the Idaho Senate Republicans wrote. 

The Republican leaders added that HB 675 runs counter to current medical advice in the state as is indicated by the Idaho Medical Association (IMA). 

The statement said the proposed legislation would outlaw gender-affirming surgery for trans minors, and the IMA had confirmed this is “already outside the generally accepted standard of care and is not being done by physicians in Idaho”. 

“The bill’s language in its current form could be interpreted to extend into the realm of medically necessary care for kids that is in no way related to transgender therapy, but serves children with highly specialised medical needs,” the statement said.  

Several LGBT+ groups have celebrated the Idaho Senate Republicans’ action and the death of the anti-trans bill. 

Cathryn Oakley, Human Rights Campaign state legislative director and senior counsel, said the proposed legislation was a “mean-spirited attack” on trans youth and was an “unprecedented government intrusion in the lives of Idahoans”. 

“The decision not to advance it is a welcome source of relief for parents across Idaho,” Oakley said. 

“It should also serve as a wake-up call to other states considering such legislation that this is not, and should not, be the government’s role to decide what best-practice healthcare should be available to youth.”

GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis described HB 675 as an “extreme” and “unnecessary example of the inhumane denial of life-saving treatment” for trans youth. 

“Every major medical organisation in the United States supports gender-affirming care for transgender youth and opposes bills seeking to criminalize it,” Ellis said. 

“It’s unconscionable that any lawmaker would threaten medical care that has been thoroughly peer-reviewed by mainstream medical organisations while professing to protect young people.”

Ellis added that Republicans “driving anti-trans bills forward” across the US should listen to their siblings in the Idaho Senate Republicans.