Indiana, Idaho governors sign bans on gender-affirming care for minors

Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed legislation Tuesday to criminalize gender-affirming care for minors. File Photo by Al Drago/UPI
Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed legislation Tuesday to criminalize gender-affirming care for minors. File Photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo

April 5 (UPI) -- The Republican governors of Indiana and Idaho have signed legislation banning gender-affirming care for minors while the American Civil Liberties Union has vowed to sue to ensure neither becomes law.

Gov. Eric Holcomb of Indiana signed Senate Bill 480 on Wednesday after Gov. Brad Little of Idaho signed House Bill 71 a day prior.


The Indiana bill prohibits medical professionals from performing transition procedures, including medical and surgery therapies, on a minor, or aiding or abetting another medical professional from doing likewise under threat of civil action.

The law goes into effect July 1, and stipulates that physicians prescribing hormone therapy to a transgender minor prior to this date may continue doing so until Dec. 31.

The Idaho bill criminalizes the administration of gender-affirming care for minors with up to 10 years' imprisonment.

"In signing this bill, I recognize our society plays a role in protecting minors from surgeries or treatments that can irreversibly damage their healthy bodies," Little said in a letter announcing his signing of HB 71.


"This bill is aptly named the Vulnerable Child Protection Act because it seeks to protect children with gender dysphoria from medical and surgical interventions that can cause permanent damage to their bodies before they are mature enough to make such health decisions."

The governors signed the bills amid a Republican effort nationwide to pass bills which opponents describe as an attack on the rights of transgender and LGBTQ people, particularly youth.

The ACLU is tracking 451 such bills entered into 44 state legislatures this year, of which 24 have already passed into law and another 354 are advancing through the various states' Congresses.

With respect to gender-affirming care for minors, 15 states including Idaho and Indiana have now passed bans with more than a dozen others considering similar policies, according to a map compiled by the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest LGBTQ civil rights organization.

The bans come despite major U.S. medical associations supporting gender-affirming care with the largest organization, the American Medical Association, saying it is "inappropriate and harmful" for state legislatures to "dictate that certain transition-related services are never appropriate and limit the range of options physicians and families may consider."

Within hours of Holcomb signing SB 480 on Wednesday, the ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit against it on behalf of four transgender youth and their families as well as a doctor and healthcare clinic on the grounds that it violates the U.S. Constitution, specially the Medicaid Act and the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits medical services authorized and reimbursed by the federal government.


"Gender-affirming care is life-saving care for our clients, and they're terrified of what will happen if this law is allowed to take effect," Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director, said in a statement. "No child should be cut off from the medical care they need or denied their fundamental right to be themselves -- but this law would do both."

In Idaho, the ACLU vowed to sue to stop HB 71 from becoming the law of the state.

"For lawmakers to interfere in decisions that ought to be made by families and their healthcare providers is clear government overreach and is unacceptable," Leo Morals, ACLU of Idaho executive director, said in a statement. "For any individuals directly impacted, we seek partnership as we challenge this law in court."

Populist and far-right think tank American Principles Project cheered both Republican governors on Wednesday, saying in a statement that "it is encouraging to see lawmakers nationwide taking action to protect children."

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