Backlash Against House Bill 71


Protesters at the Capitol downtown. (©2023 KBOI)

Brian Dyer, Social Media Editor

Recently, Governor Brad Little signed House Bill 71, known as “The Vulnerable Child Protective Act”. This act, effective next year, will ban transgender minors from receiving gender-affirming care, which includes puberty blockers and hormone therapy. It also will give doctors who prescribe these medications to minors a felony charge and up to ten years in prison. The bill also bans transgender children from getting gender-affirming surgeries.

Little’s reasoning for signing the bill was to protect minors from “surgeries or treatments that can irreversibly damage their healthy bodies.” However, according the Idaho Statesman, there is no evidence to prove that anyone under 18 in Idaho goes through these procedures. He has also stated that he recognizes how policy makers should “take great caution whenever we consider allowing the government to interfere with loving parents and their decisions about what is best for their children.”

From Idaho’s Democratic Party, Rep. Lauren Necochea spoke against the bill, stating that the signing “criminalizes treatments proven to reduce suicidality, anxiety, and depression among transgender youth…It’s a dark day for Idaho, and history will not look kindly on the Republican lawmakers who enacted this legislation.” On the other side, Rep. Bruce Skaug of Nampa said that “the best way to reduce [suicide rates of] children is to give them traditional talk therapy, counseling and care as they go through puberty and these confusing times of life”.

Those apposing the bill state that many transgender patients already go through plenty of therapy. Eve Devitt, a student at Boise High, says that “it took me 15 months of constant medical visits to be able to get onto hormones for the first time”. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which includes over 60,000 doctors and specialists, note gender-affirming care as a way to aid children diagnosed with gender dysphoria. They state that they, as well as other providers of care, “educate families, and advocate for safer community spaces where children are free to develop and explore their gender.”

The Trevor Project, a nonprofit group focused on preventing suicides among LGBTQ+ youth, conducted a survey in 2022 that showed that nearly 1 in 5 transgender youth have attempted suicide. They also found that 93% of transgender youth are “worried about transgender people being denied access to gender-affirming medical care due to state or local laws”.

Although it won’t go into effect until January 2024, the bill has received heavy amounts of backlash and criticism from both trans and cisgender protesters. Only time will tell on the future of this bill.