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Montana Republicans target transgender youth in two new bills

: A supporter holds a sign that says "Support Trans Youth"
Photo: Shutterstock

Montana is preparing to consider two bills that target trans youth.

House Bills 112 and 113 would ban student athletes from participating in sports as their gender and prevent minors from receiving health care related to gender transition, respectively.

Related: Montana Attorney General begs Chick-fil-A to open franchises there to protect religious freedom

Both were proposed by state Rep. John D. Fuller (R). The bills have been submitted as drafts, introduced in the Montana Legislature, revised, and referred to the Judiciary Committee.

Yellowstone Public Radio reported that both bills would be considered in hearings scheduled for tomorrow, January 13. However, the hearings have since been “canceled” via the Legislature’s website, although conference calls remain scheduled. It’s unclear why they were canceled and if there are plans for rescheduling the hearings.

Chase Strangio, the Deputy Director for Transgender Justice for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)’s LGBT & HIV Project, said that the hearings would amount to the first “hearings on dangerous anti-trans bills in 2021.”

H.B. 112, which calls for “An Act Creating the ‘Save Women’s Sports Act,'” is “a carbon copy of Idaho’s HB 500” according to Strangio. H.B. 500 of Idaho is a similarly-named ‘Save Women’s Sports Act’ proposal that passed, but is currently blocked from being enacted by a federal court’s injunction.

Like the Idaho law, the proposal calls for “public school athletic teams to be designated based on biological sex” and would allow for cisgender athletes to seek damages from schools that allow trans students to compete as their gender identity, due to the “direct or indirect” harm that would purportedly cause.

Fuller “felt compelled to introduce the legislation because he’s coached women’s soccer and he thinks transgender women have a physical advantage if they compete in sports consistent with their gender identity,” Montana Public Radio reports.

“That is unfair to females and women’s sports — period,” Fuller says in a soundbite played in The Session podcast.

This would go against the policy of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which calls for colleges and universities to allow trans students to compete in sports as the gender consistent with their identity.

The NCAA considered moving its collegiate sporting events outside of Idaho after it passed H.B. 500, potentially costing The Gem State tens of millions of dollars if the law’s not repealed. The NCAA reportedly “agreed to continue to monitor” the situation as it moves through the legal system.

The ACLU of Montana said that they will “adamantly oppose” H.B. 112.

A part of H.B. 112 that sought to indemnify education institutions if they don’t affirm trans athletes’ identities was removed in revision.

H.B. 113, known as the “Youth Health Protection Act,” calls for an act banning “certain medications and medical procedures for the treatment of gender dysphoria in minors.” If passed, it would outlaw “any form of pressure” on youth to “undergo irreversible medical procedures to change sex.”

That means a health care provider could be found liable by civil penalty of up to $50,000 if they provide any hormonal treatment, gender-affirming surgery, or “puberty-suppressing drugs.”

“It would immediately jeopardize trans lives,” Strangio said in a string of tweets. Strangio also said that this signals a trend, as they “expect we will soon see at least 15 states attempting” to pass something similar to H.B. 113.

Mara Silvers of the Montana Free Press reports that Fuller told her that he “thought it was deeply wrong” for trans or non-binary youth to receive “medical procedures when they’re so young.”

Both bills would have to be adapted by both the state house and senate by April to become law in this session.

Montana Republicans now control both chambers of the state legislature, so if they support the proposed laws, they can pass them and present them to incoming Gov. Greg Gianforte (R).

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