By the Idaho Statesman Editorial Board - February 12, 2023
For yet another year, a significant portion of the GOP in the Idaho Legislature has decided to single out transgender kids for mistreatment.
In 2020, it was kicking them off of sports teams, which passed but has so far been blocked by the courts as a likely violation of the U.S. Constitution. The same year, a bill was passed to ban transgender people from getting new birth certificates, in defiance of a court order (taxpayers just shelled out over $320,000 for that bit of lawlessness). Last year, it was efforts to make it a felony to provide trans kids with gender-affirming care, including puberty blockers to allow them more time to make a decision.
This year, there’s an effort to bring that legislation back, in the form of House Bill 71 .
It seems that no matter how many times some Republican lawmakers are informed that such forms of discrimination are unconstitutional, their urge to bully transgender people gets the better of them. It seems quite clear that many are simply offended that transgender people exist.
The latest display was at the House Judiciary and Rules Committee, which recommended passage of House Bill 71 on Wednesday.
It was shocking to hear parents and children asking — practically begging — Idaho legislators to keep the state government out of their personal lives.
“I am on the most joyful and perilous journey with my lovely child that I could possibly have imagined,” one mom testified before the House Judiciary, Rules & Administration Committee on Tuesday. “I have to directly depend on medical professionals to keep my child alive. Because, you see, my child became so despondent that they didn’t want to be alive. My hopes for my child are very simple. I want them to be happy and fulfilled. And for that to happen, they have to be alive. Please let me work with people who know how to do that, to do that.”
Gender-affirming care for children, including puberty blockers and hormones for children experiencing gender dysphoria, are recommended in certain, rare cases by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. (The latter is not to be confused with the American College of Pediatrics, a heterodox organization of about 800 members, which offered testimony in support of the bill. The organization also opposes gay adoption, links homosexuality with pedophilia and endorses conversion therapy.)
Lawmakers themselves are wholly unqualified to say anything about the proper care of youth with gender dysphoria. They do not know the state of the empirical science regarding gender affirmation care, nor are most even capable of understanding individual studies on it.
That’s not an insult — it’s really complicated, which is why we send people through years of medical school and residency before we allow them to practice medicine. But, having no idea what they’re doing, some lawmakers stand ready to send people to prison for up to a decade.
Many bill supporters spoke about protecting “our children,” as if suddenly Idaho become a collective with shared responsibility for the raising of children.
They’re not “our children.” They are the children of the parents who care for them.
In Idaho, it should be anathema to put the state government in between a patient and their doctor who is following widely accepted medical care for someone experiencing gender dysphoria. To throw anyone in prison for simply trying to do what’s best for a child is unconscionable.
These health care decisions should be left to the children, who know themselves; parents, who love their children; and doctors, who have an understanding of the science. These decisions are no one else’s business — certainly not the state government’s.