Supreme Court votes to uphold Idaho bill banning gender affirming healthcare for LGBTQ+ youth

On Monday April 16th, the Supreme Court upheld the decision to recognize an Idaho ruling banning gender-affirming care for Idaho youth. The SCOTUS ruling affirms Idaho House Bill 71, which aims to ban gender-affirming care for Idaho citizens under the age of 18 and effectively creates a punishable offense for medical professionals who provide gender-affirming care. They can face felony charges of up to 10 years should they provide gender-affirming services to Idaho youth, including hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and gender-affirming surgeries. 

The bill was brought to the U.S. Supreme Court shortly after its passing, as the families of two transgender teens filed a lawsuit petitioning that the bill violates their children’s 14th amendment right for equal protection under the law. The bill made its way to both the Idaho District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court, both of which denied the bill and its subsequent laws, before the Idaho Attorney General, Raúl R. Labrador, sent it off to the Supreme Court with an emergency motion in February. Labrador’s decision placed Idaho House Bill 71 on the Supreme Court docket for Monday’s ruling, one that comes in a long line of rulings from the Supreme Court limiting access to various health care services, primarily for women and the LGBTQ+ community. 

Idaho’s new ban poses an alarming threat to any youth seeking gender-affirming care, as well as medical providers who now have to be fearful of administering it. According to the American Psychological Association, anti-trans youth legislation, like Idaho’s bill, increases levels of anxiety, depression, and suicide risk among the LGBTQ+ youth community. In a 2023 survey performed by the Trevor Project, these details were solidified, with one in three teen members of the LGBTQ+ community expressing constant states of struggling with poor mental health due to anti-trans legislation, a harsh reality as we now see Idaho push this very type legislation through our nation’s highest court. 

In addition to disregarding the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth, the SCOTUS ruling also fails to address current medical standards on gender-affirming care. Major medical organizations such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics support access to gender-affirming care for youth and prioritize the need for increased LGBTQ+ youth healthcare for both their mental and physical well-being. These major organizations not only advocate for and teach procedures for these services, but they have also scientifically proven healthcare services and regulations surrounding them, which allows for youth gender-affirming care to be completely safe, and a viable option for individuals struggling with gender dysphoria. 

Though the SCOTUS decision allows the two petitioning families and their teens to continue accessing gender-affirming care within the state due to the preliminary injunction, it effectively removes gender affirming care for other transgender teens across the state. A number of states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia have begun passing laws banning gender-affirming care for their youth. However, the legislation has not gone uncontested, as each state is facing lawsuits as a result of such decision making. 

The backlash from the public shows that this legislation is not supported by the American people. The reality is that the majority of Americans want their children to get the health care they need and do not want LGBTQ+ youth to suffer at the hands of the Supreme Court and state legislators. This level of hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community cannot continue.

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