Idaho Wants to Make Gender-Affirming Care for Trans Teens Punishable by Life in Prison

The bill amends an existing statute on female genital mutilation to include puberty blockers and other forms of gender-affirming care.
Vladimir Vladimirov/Getty Images

The Idaho House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill Tuesday that would make it a felony punishable up to life in prison to provide teens with healthcare to affirm their gender identity.

The Idaho House, where the GOP holds a supermajority, passed House Bill 675 in a 55-13 vote. The bill amends an existing statute on female genital mutilation—which has been inflicted upon more than 200 million living women and girls around the world, the World Health Organization said in January—to “include puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and sex reassignment surgeries when administered to children struggling with gender dysphoria,” according to a statement of purpose accompanying the bill


The legislation is a solution in search of a problem. Medical guidelines advise against providing children with gender-affirming surgery, and puberty blockers and hormones—estrogen and testosterone—are not made available until the child has actually hit puberty, as the Washington Post reported last month

Though the bill repeatedly references medical procedures, major American medical organizations including the American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics have issued statements opposing efforts to stop transgender children from receiving gender-affirming care. 

The bill says that “whoever knowingly gives permission for, or permits on a child” the list of banned procedures “shall be guilty of a felony,” punishable by up to life in prison.

“This bill is about protecting children which is a legitimate state interest, we do that all of the time,” GOP Rep. Bruce Skaug said before the floor vote Tuesday. “We need to stop sterilizing and mutilating children under the age of 18.” Skaug also claimed, without evidence, that “the vast majority of gender-confused children, if allowed to go through puberty, outgrow the problem and accept their bodies over time.” 


The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth advocacy organization, found in its 2021 national survey that more than half of all transgender or nonbinary kids seriously considered committing suicide in 2021. Rep. Ned Burns, a Democrat, said on the floor Tuesday that a “yes vote will be a noose around the neck of kids who want to live, but not like this.” 

The Idaho bill, which will now head to the state’s Senate, is just a latest escalation in Republican attacks on transgender children and the people who love them. Dozens of states have either passed or introduced laws banning transgender children from playing sports with other kids of the same gender identity, and last month Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered state agencies to investigate families who help their children transition for child abuse. 

The state has reportedly already begun investigating, and has been sued by the ACLU. A court hearing is set for Friday to decide the legality of Abbott’s order. 

A previous version of this article reported that HB 675 would make it a felony to help a transgender teen leave the state for gender affirming care; this is not the case. We regret the error.

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