This story was originally published on March 4, 2022, on the Idaho Reports blog.
The Idaho House State Affairs Committee passed a bill that would prohibit gender-confirmation surgery from being performed on children, even if they had parental consent.
Rep. Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa, introduced the bill that would add to the existing law for “female genital mutilation” under Idaho Code 18-1506B.
The Legislature initially established that law in 2019, targeting ritual genital mutilation conducted against girls by some faiths. The law also added an enforcement mechanism to align with a federal law that passed in 1996 outlawing female genital mutilation.
But Skaug’s bill, HB 675, would change the law to apply to both male and female children and would prohibit surgery “if it is for the sole purpose of attempting to change or affirm the child’s perception of the child’s sex if that perception is inconsistent with the child’s biological sex.”
Some transgender people choose to undergo a gender-confirmation surgery.
Should Skaug’s bill pass, any person convicted of a violation of the law would be guilty of a felony, punishable by up to life in prison.
Skaug stressed that some of the procedures can cause children to develop sterility or stunt their growth. He also believes that sometimes children with gender dysphoria “grow out” of it, comparing the issue to children who grow out of disorders such as anorexia.
“This bill protects the harm that will be caused to our children if we allow this to go on,” Skaug said.
Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, voted against the bill, saying the Idaho Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Endocrine Society all opposed the legislation.
“I don’t think the government has the right to hurt people, but I don’t think it has the right to deprive people of medical treatment,” Gannon said.
He said the legislation was “well intended, but way too far reaching.”
“Amid a wave of dangerous bills targeting transgender youth, this bill is among the most dangerous – forcing doctors to choose between providing best-practice care to their patients and facing felony charges,” Sam Ames, director of advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project, said in a statement. “This bill is at odds with the professional guidance of every major medical and mental health association in the country. Our research shows that access to gender-affirming care is strongly associated with lower risk of depression and suicide among trans and nonbinary youth who seek it. We urge Idaho lawmakers to support this group of already marginalized young people by increasing access to care that can save lives — not throwing doctors in prison for providing it.”
The bill must now go before the full House of Representatives.