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Idaho Senate GOP kills bill criminalizing gender-affirming care

Major medical groups, like the American Medical Association, generally oppose legislation that bans or criminalizes gender-affirming care

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Idaho State Capitol building (Photo Credit: State of Idaho)

BOISE, Id. – Senate Republicans in Idaho Tuesday killed a bill that would have made gender-affirming care a felony, with those convicted having to serve up to a life sentence. 

In a statement, Idaho Senate Republicans said they “stongly” oppose “any and all gender reassignment and surgical manipulation of the natural sex” on minors. But they also wrote that the controversial legislation “undermines” a parent’s right to make medical decisions for their children.  

“We believe in parents’ rights and that the best decisions regarding medical treatment options for children are made by parents, with the benefit of their physician’s advice and expertise,” the senators wrote. 

H.B. 675, which passed the Idaho House of Representatives by a nearly party-line vote of 55-13, would have made it a felony — punishable by up to life in prison — to provide minors with hormones, puberty blockers or gender-affirming surgery – though surgeries generally aren’t performed on Trans and nonbinary youth. It would build on an existing Idaho law, established in 2019, that banned “female genital mutilation,” targetting rituals in some faiths.

The legislation included some exceptions, including when a procedure is deemed “necessary to the health of the person on whom it is performed.” There was also a carve-out for performing surgeries on intersex individuals, even as intersex people advocate to end such procedures on infants.

In their statement, the senators also said that the bill was “counterindicated” by the Idaho Medical Association (IMA), which confirmed that gender-affirming surgeries on youth do not occur in Idaho. Major medical groups, like the American Medical Association, generally oppose legislation that bans or criminalizes gender-affirming care. 

The statement also cited the measure’s vague language, saying that its current form “could be interpreted to extend into the realm of medically necessary care for kids that is in no way related to transgender therapy.” It added: “The bill worked to carve out this area of care, unfortunately it falls short by limiting it to verifiable genetic disorders.”

Republican Rep. Bruce Skaug, who sponsored the legislation, did not immediately return the Blade’s request for comment.  

The bill was one of several efforts from GOP politicians to keep Trans and nonbinary youth from receiving gender-affirming care. 

In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued a directive that required the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate gender-affirming care as “child abuse,” while also mandating licensed professionals and general citizens report the procedures or face “criminal penalties.” A spokesperson for the Texas DFPS confirmed to CNN last week that the state has opened nine alleged “abuse” investigations of minors receiving gender-affirming care.

Meanwhile, Alabama lawmakers are considering a similar bill that would make it illegal to provide minors with gender-affirming puberty-blockers, hormones or surgeries. It cleared the Senate in a 24-6 vote and is set to be debated in the House this week.

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Idaho

Idaho police receiving death threats over arrests of anti-LGBTQ extremists

“50 percent of calls, completely anonymous, who want nothing more than to scream and yell at us and offer death threats”

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Coeur d'Alene Police Chief Lee (Screenshot/YouTube NBC News)

COEUR d’ ALENE, Id. – During a press conference on Monday, Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said that his department has received death threats after arresting thirty-one members of the Patriot Front, listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-LGBTQ+ white nationalist “hate” group.

White indicated that his department has fielded about 149 calls in the aftermath of the arrests. He said about 50 percent of the calls have been praise from the community, who offer their names and express pride in the department.

“And the other 50 percent — who are completely anonymous, who want nothing more than to scream and yell at us and use some really choice words — offer death threats against myself and other members of the police department merely for doing our jobs,” White said. “Those people obviously remain anonymous.”

Chief White told reporters that his officers and Kootenai County Sheriff’s deputies arrested the Patriot Front members along with the group’s founder Dallas-based Thomas Ryan Rousseau in traveling in a U-Haul box truck wearing face coverings, white-supremacist insignia, carrying riot shields and had an “operations plan” to riot near at the LGBTQ “Pride in the Park” in Coeur d’Alene City Park Saturday afternoon.

Chief White said he observed documents in which the group allegedly planned to create a confrontation, including the use of smoke grenades, before retreating down Sherman Avenue.

“It didn’t delineate which group exactly, whether it was police officers or the Pride people, that they were planning to confront,” White said. “It was more vague than that.”

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office released the identities of all 31 who were arrested, all of them charged with one count each of criminal conspiracy and bonded out of custody. It’s unclear if they have all retained attorneys.

Of the entire group, only two were listed as residents of Idaho in the sheriff’s booking report.

The rest of the group included seven individuals from Texas, six from Utah, five from Washington, three from Colorado, two from South Dakota, one from Alabama, one from Wyoming, one from Oregon, one from Illinois, one from Arkansas, and one from Missouri.

Booking photos via the Kootenai County, Idaho Sheriff’s Office

Patriot Front was once known as Vanguard America (VA), one of the main organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017, which rebranded after one of its members plowed his car into a crowd of people protesting the white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens.

Authorities received a tip about a “little army” loading into a U-Haul truck at a hotel Saturday afternoon. Local and state law enforcement pulled over the truck about 10 minutes later, White said.

“This one concerned citizen rather than pulling out their phone and recording this for their 15 minutes on YouTube — or Snapchatting it or something like that — took the time to call 911 to report some suspicious activity,” White said.

“And as a result, we likely stopped a riot from happening downtown.”

According to the Kootenai County, Idaho Sheriff’s Office, by Sunday afternoon all 31 men had bonded out of the Kootenai County Jail.  Their names are as follows: 

  • Jared Michael Boyce – 27 from Soringville, UT
  • Nathan David Brenner – 26 from Lewisville, CO
  • Colton Michael Brown – 23 from Rovendale, WA
  • Josiah Daniel Buster – 24 from Watauga, TX
  • Mishael Joshua Buster – 22 from Spokane, WA
  • Devin Wayne Center – 22 from FayetteVille, AR
  • Dylan Carter Corio – 21 from Cheyenne, WY
  • Winston North Durham – 21 from Genesse, ID
  • Joseph Garret Garland – 23 from Freeburg, IL
  • Branden Mitchel Haney – 35 from Kaysville, UT
  • Richard Jacob Jessop – 21 from Idaho Falls, ID
  • James Michael Johnson – 36 from Concrete, WA
  • James Julius Johnson – 40 from Sioux Falls, SD
  • Connor Patrick Moran – 23 from Watauga, TX
  • Kieran Padraig Morris – 27 from Haslet, TX
  • Lawrence Alexander Norman – 32 from Prospect, OR
  • Justin Michael Oleary – 27 from Des Moines, WA
  • Cameron Kathan Pruitt – 23 from Midway, UT
  • Forrest Clark Rankin – 28 from Wheat Ridge, CO
  • Thomas Ryan Rousseau – 23 from Grape Vine, TX
  • Conor James Ryan – 23 – from Thornton, CO
  • Spencer Thomas Simpson – 20 from Ellensburg, WA
  • Alexander Nicholai Sisenstein – 27 from Midvale, UT
  •  Derek Joseph Smith – 24 from Sioux Falls, SD
  • Dakota Ray Tabler – 29 from West Valley City, UT
  • Steven Derrick Tucker  – 30 from Haslet, TX
  • Wesley Evan Van Horn – 34 from Lexington, AL 
  • Mitchell Frederick Wagner – 24 from Florissant, MO
  • Nathaniel Taylor Whitfield – 24 from Elk Ridge, UT
  • Graham Jones Whitsom – 31 from Haslet, TX
  • Robert Benjamin Whitted – 22 from Conroe, TX

Idaho Police Receiving Death Threats Following Patriot Front Arrests Near Pride Event:

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Idaho

Coeur d’Alene Idaho police arrest armed extremists protesting Pride event

Creating concern for law enforcement was the counter-Pride rally held by the North Idaho motorcycle club, Panhandle Patriots Riding Club

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Self-described 'street preacher' who protested Pride is arrested by Coeur d’Alene police (Screenshot/Twitter video)

COEUR d’ ALENE, Id. – Heavily armed Coeur d’Alene police officers and Kootenai County Sheriff’s deputies in riot gear arrested armed anti-LGBTQ+ protestors, and a few self-labeled ‘street preachers’ who were attempting to disrupt the “Pride in the Park” in Coeur d’Alene City Park which returned after a two-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Associated Press reported that Coeur d’Alene police officers and Kootenai County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 31 people who had face coverings, white-supremacist insignia, shields and an “operations plan” to riot near an LGBTQ Pride event on Saturday afternoon. Lee White, the police chief of the Coeur d’Alene police department said those arrested were affiliated with Patriot Front, a white-supremacist group whose founder was among those arrested.

Patriot Front was once known as Vanguard America (VA), one of the main organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

Authorities received a tip about a “little army” loading into a U-Haul truck at a hotel Saturday afternoon, said Lee. Local and state law enforcement pulled over the truck about 10 minutes later, White said at a news conference.

Many of those arrested were wearing logos representing Patriot Front, which rebranded after one of its members plowed his car into a crowd of people protesting the white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens.

Idaho Police Arrest 31 White Nationalists In Back of U-Haul:

Also creating concern for law enforcement and the Pride Alliance which sponsored the event was the counter-Pride rally held by the North Idaho motorcycle club, Panhandle Patriots Riding Club, which had announced the rally last month on the group’s Facebook page.

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Spokane, Washington’s ABC News affiliate KXLY 4 reporter Elenee Dao retweeted images of those detained by law enforcement from her colleague Aodhan Brown.

ABC News affiliate KXLY 4 photojournalist Aodhan Brown/Twitter

Freelance journalist Ford Fischer also recorded some of the protestors as they moved through downtown Coeur d’Alene:

Fran Hutchins, Executive Director of Equality Federation reacted to the news of the arrests in a press statement provided to the Blade:

“This is beyond terrifying. These white supremacists traveled to Idaho specifically to harm LGBTQ+ people. This isn’t a random event. This is what happens when legislators pass laws saying it is okay to discriminate against and cause substantial harm to LGBTQ+ people, particularly transgender young people. 

The mere existence of LGBTQ+ people is under increasing attack from violent and extremist politicians and their supporters. When our states and towns make it illegal for trans youth to play sports or receive gender-affirming care, anti-LGBTQ+ individuals feel empowered. 

These extremists drove from 11 different states to terrorize LGBTQ+ people. Just weeks ago, another white supremacist drove all the way to a Buffalo supermarket to murder Black people. Over a year ago, fascists and white supremacists tried to violently take over our nation’s capital. And exactly six years ago today, 49 lives were stolen from us in the deadliest attack on LGBTQ+ people in our country’s history. 

Racism, domestic terrorism, anti-LGBTQ+ violence – some of the greatest threats in America are all inextricably linked. We cannot stand by as white supremacists try to violently grasp onto their last remaining strings of power. By coming together, we can elect leaders who know our worth and are willing to prove it by passing legislation to save all of our lives and protect us from this violence and hatred.”

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Idaho

Idaho House passes bill criminalizing gender-affirming care

The Republican sponsored legislation would make it a felony to provide minors with hormones, puberty blockers or gender-affirming surgery

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Idaho state capitol building (Photo Credit: State of Idaho)

BOISE, Id. – The Idaho House of Representatives approved Tuesday a bill making gender-affirming care a felony, with those convicted having to serve up to a life sentence. 

H.B. 675 passed the lower chamber by a vote of 55-13, nearly on party lines. One Republican, Rep. Fred Wood – the House’s only physician – joined Democrats in voting against the bill. The measure now heads to the state’s Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.

The Republican Rep. Bruce Skaug-sponsored legislation would make it a felony to provide minors with hormones, puberty blockers or gender-affirming surgery – though surgeries generally aren’t performed on Trans and nonbinary youth. It would build on an existing Idaho law, established in 2019, that banned “female genital mutilation,” targetting rituals in some faiths.

Anyone who provides gender-affirming care or surgery “for the purpose of attempting to change or affirm the child’s perception of the child’s sex if that perception is inconsistent with the child’s biological sex,” would be guilty of a felony, punishable by up to life in prison.

The legislation includes some exceptions, including when a procedure is deemed “necessary to the health of the person on whom it is performed.” There is also a carve-out for performing surgeries on intersex individuals, even as intersex people advocate to end such procedures on infants.

Meanwhile, the lower chamber is also considering a bill allowing prosecutors to criminally charge librarians who allow minors to check out “sexually explicit” materials, which some warn could apply to LGBTQ-themed books. 

The gender-affirming care legislation passed as Texas agencies began to investigate gender-affirming surgery on minors as “child abuse” after an order from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and an official opinion from Attorney General Ken Paxton. Texas Children’s Hospital, the largest pediatric hospital in the U.S., announced that it would no longer offer gender-affirming care last week due to the actions.

In addition, Alabama lawmakers are considering a similar piece of legislation that would make it illegal to provide minors with gender-affirming puberty-blockers, hormones or surgeries.

“We need to stop sterilizing and mutilating children under the age of 18,” Skaug said on the floor, arguing his bill would protect “boys and girls who have their genitals mutilated by chemicals or surgery for purposes of changing their birth sex.”

But opponents of the legislation, including some who have Trans relatives or friends, pushed back against Skaug’s bill. 

“This is the heaviest imaginable hand of government overriding family decisions on the most critical and frankly in many cases life-threatening questions,” said Rep. Ilana Rubel (D), who has a teenage child who identifies as Trans, adding that “transition becomes much more difficult” after puberty. 

“This is obviously not a step that a family takes lightly. This is a step that comes after literally thousands of hours of agonizing,” she said.

Top nationwide LGBTQ+ groups also condemned the House’s passage of the measure, including the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBTQ+ rights group in the country.

“Every kid in Idaho deserves the chance to grow up feeling safe and respected for who they are,” said Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel at the HRC. “Denying someone medically-necessary health care simply because you don’t approve of who they are is textbook discrimination. Decisions about what kind of care is appropriate for young people should be left up to the young person and their parents, in consultation with health care professionals, not by politicians looking to score political points at the expense of the well-being of transgender youth.”
According to a recent study published in JAMA Network, gender-affirming care for Trans youth reduces moderate or severe depression by 60% and suicidality by 73%.

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