Idaho bans public funds from paying for sex-change surgeries, puberty blockers for kids

Operating room staff perform a surgery.
Operating room staff perform a surgery. | Getty Images

Idaho has enacted a measure barring public funds and facilities from being used to perform or provide sex-change surgeries or hormonal interventions for children with gender dysphoria as concerns about their long-term impact persist.

Idaho's Republican Gov. Brad Little signed House Bill 668 into law Wednesday.

The measure, approved by the state's Republican-controlled House of Representatives in a party-line 58-11 vote on March 11 and passed by the state's Republican-controlled Senate in a party-line 26-8 vote on March 22, declares that "public funds shall not be used, granted, paid, or distributed to any entity, organization, or individual for the provision or subsidy of any surgical operation" for gender transition procedures. 

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All Democrats in both chambers opposed the bill, while all Republicans supported it.

Slated to take effect on July 1, the bill states that "the Idaho Medicaid program shall not reimburse or provide coverage for the use of the surgical operations or medical interventions" designed to alter "the appearance of an individual in order to affirm the individual's perception of the individual's sex in a way that is inconsistent with the individual's biological sex regardless of whether the surgical operation or medical intervention is administered to a minor or an adult."

The policy prohibits physicians or healthcare professionals who work for the state government as well as county and local governments from performing such surgeries. It also bans such interventions from taking place on state property or at state facilities.

Also, "any amount paid by an entity, organization, or individual during a taxable year for the provision of" gender transition procedures "shall not be tax-deductible." 

Existing state law defines gender transition procedures as "surgeries that sterilize or mutilate, or artificially construct tissue with the appearance of genitalia that differs from the child's biological sex" as well as the administration of "puberty-blocking medication to stop or delay normal puberty" and cross-sex hormones.

House Bill 668 outlined concerns about the long-term effects of these procedures, specifically highlighting "irreversible physical alterations and, in some cases, sterility and lifelong sexual dysfunction" as "substantial risks."

The American College of Pediatricians has listed additional side effects of puberty blockers as "osteoporosis, mood disorders, seizures, [and] cognitive impairment" while warning that cross-sex hormones can cause "an increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, blood clots and cancers." 

Matt Sharp, senior counsel at the conservative legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, praised the enactment of House Bill 668 in a statement Wednesday.

"There are only two sexes — male and female — and public funds shouldn't be used to deny this basic truth. Now and always, our loved ones deserve the loving embrace of family members who guide them toward this reality, along with access to safe and effective counseling," he said.

"People should not be subjected to harmful — often irreversible — drugs and surgeries that block healthy development, alter hormonal balances, and remove healthy organs and body parts," he added. "This radical agenda has devastated countless lives, which is why some countries–including Sweden, England, and Finland–have changed course." 

Democrats have condemned House Bill 668.

In a statement following the bill's passage in the Idaho Senate, the ACLU of Idaho described the legislation as a "cave in to the hateful demands of far-right extremists at the expense of the safety, security, and health of Idaho's transgender community."

"This is a devastating outcome for the many trans people, their family members, doctors, counselors, advocacy groups, and community members who advocated against this bill during public hearings, as well as those who have advocated in personal meetings with lawmakers," the organization asserted. "This bill is clearly unconstitutional, as each law Idaho has passed that discriminates against transgender people before it is still being litigated and remains unenforceable."

Contending that "Idaho's legislators have chosen to waste taxpayer money funding their efforts to defend state-sanctioned discrimination in the courts rather than simply allowing transgender people in Idaho to make their own medical decisions in peace," the ACLU of Idaho vowed that it "will not permit such discrimination in our state" and that "the fight does not end here." 

A former pediatric gender clinic employee elaborated on the adverse effects of cross-sex hormones in an op-ed for The Free Press last year. One case, she wrote, led to a girl's clitoris taking on the appearance of a "tiny penis" that "extended below her vulva" and "chafed and rubbed painfully in her jeans." 

Another girl who was prescribed testosterone experienced severe bleeding that "soaked through an extra heavy pad, her jeans, and a towel she had wrapped around her waist" after her "vaginal canal had ripped open" while having intercourse due to the fact that "testosterone thins the vaginal tissues."

Chloe Cole, a detransitioner who received a double mastectomy at the age of 15, is suing the medical providers who performed the procedure, alleging it caused her to experience "deep physical and emotional wounds, severe regrets, and distrust of the medical system" as well as suicidal thoughts.  

Concerns about the long-term impacts of gender transition procedures have led Idaho and 23 other states to prohibit minors with gender dysphoria from obtaining some or all of them. Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming have passed similar laws. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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