All kids ‘deserve a chance’: Idaho, U.S. react to governor signing law to ban gender-affirming care

Gov. Brad Little signed House Bill 71 after his office received thousands of calls

By: - April 6, 2023 4:22 am
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House Bill 71 makes it a felony for doctors to provide gender-affirming care to transgender minors. (Getty Images)

Late Tuesday and into Wednesday, organizations at the local and national level applauded and condemned Idaho Gov. Brad Little for signing House Bill 71.

Little signed the bill just before 6 p.m. Tuesday to criminalize gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

The law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2024. It will keep transgender youth from accessing puberty blockers, hormones and surgeries in Idaho. (Surgeries already were not performed on minors.) It makes providing those medical treatments a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

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The Idaho Family Policy Center, a conservative Christian policy and research group that spearheaded the legislation, was one of first organizations to release a statement on Gov. Little’s approval. The organization drafted the bill that Rep. Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa, and Sen. Lori Den Hartog, R-Meridian, sponsored in the Idaho Legislature.

Blaine Conzatti, the Idaho Family Policy Center’s president, said his organization celebrated Little’s decision. Conzatti previously told the Idaho Capital Sun that his organization funded a $5,000 robocall system for supporters of the bill to directly contact the governor. 

“We’re grateful that Gov. Brad Little fulfilled his responsibility to protect vulnerable children struggling with gender dysphoria,” Conzatti said in a press release Tuesday night. 

ACLU of Idaho announces plans to sue, calls bill ‘government overreach’

American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho Executive Director Leo Morales said in a press release Wednesday that his organization plans to challenge the law in court, calling House Bill 71 “harmful” and “unconstitutional.” 

“We are extremely disappointed at the signing of HB 71 into law,” he said. “This discriminatory law criminalizes safe, effective, and necessary healthcare for Idaho youth. Further, for lawmakers to interfere in decisions that ought to be made by families and their healthcare providers is clear government overreach and is unacceptable.”

ACLU of Idaho Legislative Strategist Amy Dundon also said she is committed to stopping the law. She said she is frustrated that despite hearing testimony from transgender youth and medical providers Idaho, legislators and the governor decided to “intrude” on parental rights.

“Trans youth—like all youth—deserve a chance to thrive and feel safe in our state,” she said in the press release. “HB 71 is wrong for Idaho and will push out families and doctors from the state,” Dundon said.

Idaho Freedom Foundation celebrates ban on gender care for youth

Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman also released a statement Tuesday night and thanked the organization’s supporters for contacting the governor’s office in support of the bill. 

The IFF also led a petition on its website for Idahoans to contact Little’s office. In the automated emails sent to the governor’s office, the organization called transgender health care for minors “barbaric.”

“We are thankful that Gov. Little heard … the message of thousands of Idahoans concerned about the brainwashing and long term effects of radical gender ideology on our kids,” Hoffman said in the press release Tuesday night. “Idaho will be a state where children can grow up free from this kind of harm.”

Hoffman said that in recent years, the organization has prioritized combating “gender ideology,” and he called the decision a “culmination of a long fight” to protect children. 

Add the Words director says parents are worried, bill contradicts Idaho values

Add the Words Idaho Executive Director Chelsea Gaona-Lincoln said in a press release Tuesday evening that she has received several calls from Idaho families who are fearful about the bill’s impact on their transgender child. 

Gaona-Lincoln said Little’s decision to sign the bill contradicts his values regarding parental choice, and that the bill sends a negative message to the state’s medical providers.

“Governor Little has signaled that Idaho is willing to criminalize doctors for doing their jobs,” she said. “As a state that already struggles to recruit and retain enough physicians, we are sure the consequences of this enactment will be devastating, especially for rural Idahoans.”

Gaona-Lincoln said her organization will continue to find ways to support transgender youth. 

“We send our love and affirmation to all our transgender community members and their loved ones who are enduring this unthinkable harm and government interference caused by a loud and extreme minority of the legislative body and weakness of Governor Little,” she said. 

National group applauds governor, calls gender-affirming care ‘predatory’

The American Principles Project, a conservative advocacy organization based in Virginia, released a statement in support of Little’s decision to make Idaho the 14th state to restrict gender-affirming care in some capacity.

The organization’s president, Terry Schilling, praised the legislation and called gender-affirming health care a “scandal.”

“It is encouraging to see lawmakers nationwide taking action to protect children from the predatory transgender industry,” he said. “We thank Gov. Little and the Idaho Legislature for stepping up to protect their state’s families and kids. And we look forward to seeing more states join them in the weeks ahead.”

Idaho Democratic Party says governor ‘signed away’ parental rights

Idaho Democratic Party Chair Lauren Necochea, a member of the Idaho House from Boise, said in a press release Wednesday that she hopes a legal challenge will strike down the law before it takes effect next year. 

“Governor Little just signed away the rights of loving parents to access the medical care they choose for their children,” she said. “His decision criminalizes treatments proven to reduce suicidality, anxiety, and depression among transgender youth.

“This legislation harms our vulnerable kids the most. It also hurts entire communities. Our friends and neighbors will be driven out of state. The continued criminalization of standard care endorsed by major medical associations will push more doctors to leave Idaho.

“It’s a dark day for Idaho and history will not look kindly on the Republican lawmakers who enacted this legislation,” Nechochea said. 

‘We stand with our trans community’: Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates says

Idaho Director of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman said in a statement Wednesday that people of all gender identities deserve access to quality, affordable and non judgemental health care, which she said includes accurate information about their health care.

DelliCarpini-Tolman said that Little’s decision to sign the bill into law disregards evidence from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and other medical authorities that have said gender-affirming care is essential for some youth.

“My heart breaks to think of the message that HB 71 and Idaho lawmakers are sending to LGBTQ+ Idahoans with this hateful law, so let me send one that I hope will come through louder: you are loved, you are worthy, you deserve joy,” she said. “We stand with our trans community and will fight this with everything we’ve got.”

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Mia Maldonado
Mia Maldonado

Mia Maldonado joined the Idaho Capital Sun after working as a breaking news reporter at the Idaho Statesman covering stories related to crime, education, growth and politics. She previously interned at the Idaho Capital Sun through the Voces Internship of Idaho, an equity-driven program for young Latinos to work in Idaho news. Born and raised in Coeur d'Alene, Mia moved to the Treasure Valley for college where she graduated from the College of Idaho with a bachelor's degree in Spanish and international political economy.

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