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Idaho considers a ban on using public funds or facilities for gender-affirming care

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Idaho lawmakers are expected to vote this week on a bill banning the use of public funds for gender-affirming care. This includes state employees using work health insurance and adults that use Medicaid.


The legislation has already passed the House and only needs to clear the majority Republican Senate before it is sent to Governor Brad Little. It is likely to be signed into law if it arrives. The Republican governor has repeatedly said he doesn’t believe public funds should be used for gender-affirming care.

If the legislation passes, Idaho would become the 10th state to ban Medicaid funding for gender-affirming care for people across all age groups. This law is just one example of an ongoing national battle concerning the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans.

“This bill violates the 14th Amendment equal protections clause” Boise attorney Howard Belodoff told lawmakers during a hearing on Thursday.

Belodoff represents the transgender adults who sued the state over what they have claimed are discriminatory Medicaid policies excluding coverage for genital reconstruction surgery. Last year a federal judge barred Idaho from enforcing a ban on gender-affirming medical care for minors until a lawsuit from transgender youth and their families was resolved. A different federal judge denied Idaho’s motion to dismiss a separate lawsuit that was filed by adults in 2022 who claimed Medicaid officials wrongly denied coverage for their medically necessary gender-affirming treatment.

The legislation bars the use of any state property, facility or building for providing surgical operations or medical interventions. This means employees would be subject to criminal charges if they took legally prescribed medication while in a break room or other rest area.


Violating the law would result in punishments that include fines ranging between $300 to $10,000 and potential jail time between one to fourteen years.


At least 23 states, including Idaho, have passed laws banning gender-affirming care for minors. Some states also have considered policies that would make it more difficult for transgender adults to receive care. This includes eliminating the option for online health or requiring repeated psychological examinations in order to continue gender-affirming treatment. Major medical groups, which include the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, resist bans on gender-affirming care and have endorsed the treatments, affirming it’s safe when properly administered.

Courts have blocked the enforcement of gender-affirming care bans for minors in Idaho, Montana and Arkansas, but have allowed enforcement in Alabama and Georgia.

Edited by Molly Shewan


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