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Idaho Senate kills bill on gender confirmation surgery for minors

The Republican Senate Majority Caucus said it opposes 'gender reassignment' for those under 18, but believes House Bill 675 undermines parental rights.

BOISE, Idaho — Leaders in the Idaho Senate say a House-approved bill to prohibit gender reassignment surgeries and gender-affirming health care such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy for minors is dead in that chamber.

Rep. Bruce Skaug of Nampa authored House Bill 675 as a proposed amendment to Idaho's ban on female genital mutilation, arguing that surgeries, puberty blockers and hormone therapy are "almost always irreversible," and that some "render the patient sterile."

The bill passed in the House by a vote of 55-13, but it looks like that's as far as it will get, at least this session.

The Republican Senate Majority Caucus in a statement Tuesday said it strongly opposes gender reassignment for minors, but the legislation undermines parental rights and allows the government to interfere. The senators also say the proposed law goes against the Idaho Medical Association, and it could be interpreted to extend into medically necessary care for kids. The proposed law said a violation would be a felony punishable by up to life in prison.

Here is the complete statement:

"The Idaho State Senate Majority Caucus strongly opposes any and all gender reassignment and surgical manipulation of the natural sex of minors. 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.

"It is against medical advice in Idaho and is counterindicated by the Idaho Medical Association (IMA). Among other provisions, HB 675 outlaws gender-affirming surgery for transgender minors; and the IMA has confirmed that 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 specialized medical needs. 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."

House Bill 675 is currently in the Senate State Affairs Committee, and has not received a hearing.

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