Idaho became the latest state to enact a law that criminalizes gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth on Tuesday, April 4, 2023.
The law, named the Vulnerable Child Protection Act, makes it a felony to provide puberty blockers, hormone treatment or gender-affirming surgeries to people under age 18. It also makes it a crime to help a child travel out of state for such care.
The law is set to go into effect in January 2023 and carries a penalty of up to life imprisonment for anyone who violates it. Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, said the law will protect minors from “surgeries or treatments that can irreversibly damage their healthy bodies.”
However, opponents of the law have warned that it will harm transgender youth and violate their human rights. The American Medical Association (AMA), the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association all support gender-affirming care for youths and say it is medically necessary, evidence-based and improves their physical and mental health.
“Gender-affirming care is medically-necessary, evidence-based care that improves the physical and mental health of transgender and gender-diverse people,” AMA Board Member Michael Suk previously said.
According to a 2019 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 2% of high school students identified as trans, and 35% had attempted suicide in the previous year.
Civil rights and LGBTQ+ advocacy groups have condemned the law and vowed to challenge it in court. Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said: “Bills like HB 675 are being pushed across the country by well-funded, national, anti-trans groups to mobilize their political base.”