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Transgender teens sue to block Idaho law banning gender-affirming care

Alexander Grey

Two transgender girls and their families are suing the state of Idaho ahead of the implementation of a new law that would criminalize gender-affirming care for those under 18.

The plaintiffs include 15-year-old Pam Poe, a transgender girl who has been on hormone therapy and puberty blockers since April.

An anonymous 16-year-old girl who’s been on similar treatments since 2021 is also challenging the law, which could land healthcare providers in prison for up to 10 years if they violate it.

It’s set to take effect Jan. 1, 2024.

The ACLU of Idaho, which is representing the families in federal court, calls the law “an unprecedented intrusion into families’ fundamental autonomy.”

In addition to that, they say it also violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment since minors who aren’t transgender still have access to these medications.

The families are asking a judge to permanently bar the state from enforcing the law.

The Idaho Attorney General’s Office declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

State legislators passed the law earlier this year after multiple emotional hearings. Republicans who supported it said not even parents should be able to sign off on these treatments, at times calling it "genital mutilation."

Gender-affirming surgeries aren't being performed on those under 18 in Idaho.

Research shows the effects of puberty blockers are largely reversible, though the patient's bone density can suffer. Cross-sex hormones can affect the patient's fertility later in life as well — all of which are explained to patients and their families prior to their administration and only with all parties consent, according to physicians treating transgender youth.

All major healthcare organizations in the United States, like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, endorse gender-affirming care for minors, saying it reduces suicide rates.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio

Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

James Dawson joined Boise State Public Radio as the organization's News Director in 2017. He oversees the station's award-winning news department. Most recently, he covered state politics and government for Delaware Public Media since the station first began broadcasting in 2012 as the country's newest NPR affiliate. Those reports spanned two governors, three sessions of the Delaware General Assembly, and three consequential elections. His work has been featured on All Things Considered and NPR's newscast division. An Idaho native from north of the time zone bridge, James previously served as the public affairs reporter and interim news director for the commercial radio network Inland Northwest Broadcasting. His reporting experience included state and local government, arts and culture, crime, and agriculture. He's a proud University of Idaho graduate with a bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media. When he's not in the office, you can find James fly fishing, buffing up on his photography or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.