Republican legislators in Idaho have blocked a bill that would have made giving trans children gender-affirming care a crime.
House Bill 675 (HB 675) passed through the state’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives on 8 March by a vote of 55 in favour to 13 against.
If implemented, it would have seen those who give children gender-affirming care, such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy, punished by up to life in prison, according to the bill’s text.
However, legislators in the Idaho Senate, which is also dominated by the GOP, released a statement confirming that HB 675 will not progress any further at this time as they believe it undermines parental rights.
“The Idaho State Senate Majority Caucus strongly opposes any and all gender reassignment and surgical manipulation of the natural sex of minors,” the Republican Senate Majority Caucus said in a statement on 15 March.
“HB 675 undermines parental rights and allows 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.”
They also stated that the language of the bill “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 specialized medical needs.”
The statement continued: “The bill worked to carve out this area of care, unfortunately it falls short by limiting it to verifiable genetic disorders. Since many of these acute medical conditions cannot always be verified as a genetic disorder or done so in a timely manner, the proposal has unintended consequences.”
LGBTQ+ activists have celebrated the failure of HB 675, something Cathryn Oakley, the state legislative director and senior counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, called a “mean-spirited attack on transgender children”.
“The decision not to advance it is a welcome source of relief for parents across Idaho,” Oakley continued. “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.”