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Idaho Senate Republicans issue statement opposing gender care bill

The Senate in session at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)
Otto Kitsinger
The Senate in session at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

Republican leaders in the Idaho Senate have expressed opposition to House Bill 675, a law that would make it a felony of up to life in prison to provide hormonal therapy or gender reassignment surgery to a child, according to a press release.

The bill has not yet been heard in the Senate State Affairs Committee, and it likely won’t be. All of the Senate leaders who authored the press release serve on the committee — Senate Pro Tem Chuck Winder, R-Boise; Majority Leader Kelly Anthon, R-Burley; Assistant Majority Leader Abby Lee, R-Fruitland; and Majority Caucus Chairman Mark Harris, R-Soda Springs.

Opponents of the bill, including some Idaho doctors, have said the legislation does not promote parental rights and has caused transgender children to consider suicide or consider moving from the state.

The statement says the caucus strongly opposes any and all gender reassignment and surgical manipulation procedures and believes in parental rights, but that the practice is not being done in Idaho. They said the bill language goes too far and could have unintended consequences.

“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 statement read. “The bill worked to carve out this area of care, (but) 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.”

Winder had signaled the Senate likely would not hear the bill during a press conference last week, along with other bills he called “craziness” from the House of Representatives, including House Bill 666, which would criminalize librarians and other public institutions for distributing “obscene” materials to children.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state. As longtime Idahoans ourselves, we understand the challenges and opportunities facing Idaho. We provide in-depth reporting on legislative and state policy, health care, tax policy, the environment, Idaho’s explosive population growth and more. Our mission is relentless investigative journalism that sheds light on how decisions in Boise and beyond are made and how they affect everyday Idahoans. We aim to tell untold stories and provide data, context and analysis on the issues that matter most throughout the state. The Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. We retain full editorial independence.