Human Rights Campaign Blasts Idaho House Vote to Make Gender Affirming Care a Felony

by HRC Staff

Boise, Idaho — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — is speaking out against today’s vote in the Idaho House to approve H71, legislation that would make it a felony to authorize or provide age-appropriate, best practice, gender affirming care supported by every credible medical organization representing over 1.3 million doctors in the United States. This legislation attempts to conflate this best practice care with genital mutilation of children, a deeply offensive and flagrantly untrue comparison that takes radical, discriminatory talking points and writes them into law.

Idaho has passed several pieces of legislation in recent years that target the transgender community, including a sports ban which was enjoined in an opinion which called out the explicit discrimination that had motivated that legislation. Yet again, Idaho lawmakers are caving to the far-right pressure campaign spearheaded by political extremists and disinformation on social media and other platforms. It is one of hundreds of bills being pushed by national anti-LGBTQ+ organizations across dozens of states.

Gender-affirming care is age-appropriate care that is medically necessary for the well-being of many transgender and non-binary people who experience symptoms of gender dysphoria, or distress that results from having one’s gender identity not match their sex assigned at birth. Gender-affirming care is the integration of medical, mental health and social services. For transgender children, transition is an entirely social process which may include a new name or pronouns, wearing different clothes or styling one’s hair differently. At puberty, doctors may一in consultation with and having the informed consent of the transgender youth and their parents一prescribe reversible medication known as puberty-blockers, which allow a young person to safely reach an age in which they’re truly able to consent to further treatment.

Human Rights State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley issued the following statement today:

“This piece of legislation is both discriminatory and deeply offensive. Decisions about what age-appropriate, best practice medical care - care that is supported by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and all relevant experts - is appropriate for a specific transgender young person is made with the informed consent of the young person, their parents, and the medical experts providing their care. Idaho’s legislature, on the other hand, has discriminated against transgender people in bill after bill in recent years, and the proposition that they know more about this care than the medical experts, or care more about the welfare of these children than their parents, is ludicrous. Their allegation that transition-related care - which is entirely social for young transgender folks and reversible for teens - is comparable to gender mutilation is deeply unserious and offensive, particularly since this bill also explicitly authorizes truly irreversible surgical interventions for non-transgender people. This bill is another anti-transgender legislative embarrassment for Idaho and only serves to hurt children while it cements the Idaho legislature’s reputation for discrimination.”

This law is one of many dangerous efforts far right political extremists and national anti-LGBTQ+ organizations are launching in Idaho and across the country against transgender youth and their families. Bolstered by disinformation spread by social media and designed to take aim at age appropriate, life-saving, medically necessary care for transgender youth, these bans directly place the health, safety and wellbeing of transgender youth in Idaho at risk.

A record number of 315 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were filed in statehouses across the United States last year, largely focused on denying transgender youth the ability to receive gender-affirming care and participate in school athletics programs, with even more expected to be filed in 2023. Arkansas and Alabama have passed such laws and both are currently stayed pending the conclusion of litigation challenging them; an executive action in Texas is similarly stayed. Utah was the first state in 2023 to pass a law preventing gender-affirming, with Mississippi poised to become the second this year and fourth law overall. These bills are extreme, rooted in misinformation and lies about gender-affirming care, and are contrary to medical best practices.


  • Every credible medical organization – representing over 1.3 million doctors in the United States – calls for age-appropriate gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people.
    • “Transition-related” or “gender-affirming” care looks different for every transgender and non-binary person.

    • Parents, their kids, and doctors make decisions together, and no medical interventions with permanent consequences happen until a transgender person is old enough to give truly informed consent.

  • Gender transition is a personal process that can include changing clothes, names, and hairstyles to fit a person’s gender identity.
    • Some people take medication, and some do not; some adults have surgeries, and others do not. How someone transitions is their choice, to be made with their family and their doctor.

    • Therapists, parents and health care providers work together to determine which changes to make at a given time that are in the best interest of the child.

    • In most young children, this care can be entirely social. This means:
      • New name

      • New hairstyle

      • New clothing

      • None of this care is irreversible.

  • Being transgender is not new.
    • Some say it can feel like being transgender is very new – but that’s because the media has been covering it more in recent months and years.

    • But transgender people have always existed and will continue to exist regardless of the bills we pass.

    • And very few transgender people change their mind.

  • ALL gender-affirming care is:
    • Age-appropriate

    • Medically necessary

    • Supported by all major medical organizations

    • Made in consultation with medical and mental health professionals AND parents

  • And in many cases, this care is lifesaving!
    • A recent study from the Trevor Project provides data supporting this — transgender youth with access to gender-affirming hormone therapy have lower rates of depression and are at a lower risk for suicide.

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The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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