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Dozens spoke against bill to ban transgender therapy for youth. Chair won’t advance it

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BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Caldwell Rep. Greg Chaney, the Republican chair of the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee, announced Wednesday that he would hold a bill on therapy for transgender children in committee.

During emotional testimony in a Tuesday committee meeting about House Bill 465, more than 50 people expressed concerns about preventing transgender youths from seeking medical care.

Chaney said in a news release that he will not schedule a vote on the bill, which was initially pitched by Rep. Christy Zito, R-Hammett.

“Not all who signed up to testify were able to in the time available. Chairman Chaney announced that if he scheduled the bill for a vote, he would first schedule time for those who had signed up to testify to do so,” according to the release. “As a result of his announcement that H465 would advance no further, Chairman Chaney also announced that he wouldn’t schedule the remainder of the public testimony, either, as it would be moot.”

Chaney said he had some concerns about the bill, including the proposed criminal penalty and interference with a current law that outlaws female genital mutilation.

“I found all of the 51 people who addressed the committee yesterday to be sincere and legitimately concerned for the welfare of our children,” Chaney wrote.

Zito’s bill would have piggybacked off of a law that outlaws genital mutilation, something that is deemed a human rights violation, by adding in a variety of other treatments that could not be provided to minors. Most of those treatments are used by transgender individuals.

Zito’s bill also would have charged doctors with a felony, punishable by up to life in prison, if they treated any juvenile transgender patients with legal procedures, such as hormone therapy.

The creator of the initial female genital mutilation law, Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee, confronted Zito about mixing the two issues in Tuesday’s hearing, according to a report from Boise State Public Radio.

“I feel like that issue has been hijacked,” Troy said Tuesday. “I just think we’re making a huge mistake to take off any of our attention to that issue.”

Chaney moved by testimony on transgender bill

Chaney included in his media announcement a 5-page letter that he sent to Zito on Wednesday, explaining his decision.

Chaney told Zito that he would allow her a few minutes on Thursday to address the topic, but that the bill would not be proceeding. He wrote that the subject was worth bringing to the Legislature.

Chaney said in the release that Tuesday’s testimony “showed the very real struggle faced by those with gender dysphoria, their families, and their providers. While I strongly disagree with their conclusions and course of conduct, the parents and providers of those with gender dysphoria are very intently attempting to do what is best as they see it.

“Many fear that denying access to these procedures will increase the risk of suicide among those suffering from gender dysphoria. However, there is credible evidence that sex change operations increase the likelihood of suicide,” Chaney wrote to Zito.

After citing some studies about suicide rates among transgender people, Chaney closed the letter by saying, “It is with the sincerest empathy for those with gender dysphoria that I oppose the practice of administering sex-change treatment to minors. I agree with you on the need to eschew the practice in Idaho.”

Chaney then listed the reasons he will hold the bill in committee, rather than moving it forward.

“Despite my strong opposition to permitting sex-change treatment for children I nevertheless feel that H465 should not advance this year,” Chaney wrote to Zito. “My discomfort with the bill arises from three areas: 1) the severity of the potential sentences, 2) it’s potential to interfere with the enforcement of the relatively new law on female genital mutilation, and 3) the unsettled state of the law around state action on issues relating to gender dysphoria.”

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