The law, House Bill 71, specifically bans gender transition surgeries, puberty blockers and hormone therapy for those under 18 with gender dysphoria. It also makes it an offense for medical professionals to provide care, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The Republican-controlled Idaho Legislature passed the bill, also known as the Vulnerable Child Protective Act, in February, and Gov. Brad Little, also a Republican, signed it in April. The ban was to come into effect on January 1, 2024.
Mr Little said the ban was intended to “protect children”. But major medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have come out in support of gender transition care, saying the bans pose serious risks to young people’s mental health.
In May, two Idaho families, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations, filed a lawsuit to stop the ban from taking effect, saying it was unconstitutional and harmful to the well-being of transgender minors.
“When the adolescent patient, their parents, and their physician all agree that gender-affirming medical care is medically necessary, the law deprives families of the opportunity to access such care,” the complaint states.
“Being able to live my life as I really am has been a long journey, and my medical care has been a huge part of that journey,” said one plaintiff, a 16-year-old transgender girl listed as Jane Doe in the case. said in a statement.
On December 27, Judge B. Lynn Winmill, appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1995, issued a preliminary injunction, saying in his ruling that the plaintiffs had “demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their claims.”
Why is this important
The Idaho legislation is part of a nationwide wave of laws aimed at restricting the rights of transgender minors. Since the start of the year, at least 20 states, all with Republican-controlled legislatures, have passed bans or restrictions on gender transition care for young people.
In more than half of the states that have adopted such bans, legal challenges have been filed. In recent months, numerous judges have ruled in favor of plaintiffs who sought to temporarily block the bans while the challenges continued. But rulings from appeals courts in Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee overturned those rulings, creating even more uncertainty for transgender minors and their families. In November, plaintiffs in the case against Tennessee’s ban were the first to ask the Supreme Court to rule on the issue.
In Idaho, the Vulnerable Child Protective Act is not the only law restricting the rights of transgender youth that is currently the subject of legal battles.
Days before signing the Vulnerable Child Protection Act, the governor signed a separate bill affecting transgender minors, known as Senate Bill 1100. This law prohibited transgender students from using public restrooms that did not correspond to their sex assigned at birth and allowed students to take legal action against schools if they encountered a transgender student violating the rule.
The bathroom ban took effect July 1, and in August a judge issued a temporary restraining order, suspending enforcement of the law until the court rules on whether to grant a preliminary injunction.
For now, transgender minors in Idaho will still be able to receive gender transition care while the challenge to the constitutionality of the state ban continues to move through the legal system.
Adele Hassan reports contributed.
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