***Update on the Texas Anti-Trans Directive***
Texas Governor Abbott has filed an accelerated interlocutory appeal in response to the Travis County District Court’s temporary restraining order in the case of Doe v. Abbott, which we discussed in last week’s blog post. Governor Abbott filed the appeal pursuant to Texas Civil and Practice Remedies Code 51.014(8), which allows for an immediate appeal from an order that denies “a plea to the jurisdiction.” Consequently, the hearing that was set for today has been put on hold. On Wednesday, community organizers held a rally in support of transgender children’s rights in Austin, Texas, in reaction to Governor Abbott’s directive.
In its latest echo to Texas, the Idaho House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday, Mar. 8, that, if signed into law, would make it a felony to provide youths with gender-affirming care. Not only does this bill go after medical professionals doing their jobs, it would punish the guardians of transgender, gender diverse, and nonbinary youth if they permit a youth in their care to receive gender-affirming treatment or permit/assist them in leaving Idaho to receive gender-affirming treatment. Violators could spend life in prison. Passage of this bill mostly followed party lines, moving to the Senate with a 55-13 approval vote. Only Republican Dr. Fred Wood—the only medical doctor in the Idaho Legislature—joined Idaho’s 12 Democrats in opposition to the bill.
The law the Idaho House wishes to alter originated in 2019 as an attempt to reduce the genital mutilation of young girls performed by certain faith groups. This legislation referenced exclusively “female genital mutilation of a child.” Rep. Bruce Skaug brought the transphobic amendments to this law veiled as a means to “protect” children. Skaug analogized life saving gender-affirming care with “sterilization” and “mutilation.” In a truly wild demonstration of his misunderstanding and his grotesque disregard for the rights of transgender, gender-diverse, and nonbinary youths, Skaug boiled down the worth of individuals to an “ability to procreate” as it is “a fundamental right that must be protected for these children.”
One of 29 other pieces of nationwide legislation aimed at preventing healthcare for transgender, gender-diverse, and nonbinary youths, Idaho’s bill differs from the others in that it criminalizes children leaving Idaho to find gender-affirming care as well as children within Idaho seeking gender-affirming care. Undisputedly, this bill clearly tells transgender, gender-diverse, and nonbinary persons that Idaho does not acknowledge their human rights. It is unlikely Idaho would ever pass a bill that prevents its residents from seeking medical care at an emergency room in another state or from seeking the aid of medical specialists for certain aggressive forms of cancer.
Idaho and Texas are not alone in their attack on human rights. The Idaho House’s passage of a bill impacting activity in and out of the state is just another example of state governments’ current authoritarian efforts to forcibly suppress human rights that exist in opposition to their agendas.
Recently, the Florida Legislature passed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, a law that would forbid instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. It would allow parents to sue school districts in violation of the law. An earlier draft of the bill required teachers to notify the parents of a student who came out as LGBTQ+. A Tennessee bill, if enacted, would ban gender affirming therapy for pre-pubescent minors and charge parents who allow their children to obtain such medical treatment with child abuse. The bill would also severely limit minors who have entered puberty from obtaining gender-affirming care. South Dakota became the first state in 2022 (and the 10th nationwide) to enact a law banning trans girls and trans women from competing in female sports teams.
A proposed measure in Missouri would prohibit residents from obtaining out-of-state abortion services and would create a private right of action against anyone who tried or anyone who assisted someone in obtaining an abortion. Earlier this month, Congress failed to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, while state lawmakers nationwide tighten abortion restrictions and the Justices of the Supreme Court likely circulate early drafts of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
These issues are not simply politicized points between two feuding parties; this sweep of recent legislation intends to criminalize humanity—a humanity that exists beyond specific legislators’ beliefs and ideals.