Montana business leaders slam bill that denies health care to transgender kids

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A group of more than 150 business owners are reaching out to state lawmakers to oppose the bill.

Montana business leaders are speaking out against two state bills attacking transgender people's rights, including a bill that puts transgender youths' health at risk by restricting medical care to treat gender dysphoria.

The group of business owners — which includes leaders at Yellowstone Growth Partners, an information technology businesses; Hatch, a nonprofit organization that focuses on mentorship and networking; and ClassPass, a company that helps people access fitness classes — plan to release the letter to the Montana House Judiciary when it holds a hearing for the two bills. This legislation was initially scheduled for a hearing this week but it is being rescheduled for a later date.

They plan to tell lawmakers that the bills would harm the state and make it difficult for them to recruit workers.

One of the bills, HB 113, would prohibit health care providers from prescribing, providing, or administering hormonal treatments or surgery to minors "to treat gender dysphoria." A health care provider could be fined anywhere from $500 to $50,000 for violating the law.

"Passage of such a policy could negatively impact recruitment and retention of highly qualified medical professionals who want to live and work in Montana, but not with discriminatory laws in place," the group wrote.

They added that the bills "would also harm recruitment efforts of good employees who may not want to visit and live in Montana due to discriminatory and outdated laws."

Another bill, HB 112, would prohibit public schools, including colleges, from allowing transgender students to play on the team corresponding to their gender.

Fritz Lanman, CEO of ClassPass, stated in a press release from the ACLU of Montana, "We are in the midst of a global health crisis. Our focus should be on enacting laws that protect and support Montanans, including trans and nonbinary youth and other LGBTQ members of our community."

Health care workers are also speaking out against HB 113.

Dr. Lauren Wilson, vice president of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Montana chapter, plans to speak to the committee once the hearing is rescheduled. According to Montana Free Press, she plans to tell the committee that the bill is an "intrusion into our exam rooms" and that "it would enact barriers that would cause Montana families irreversible harm and ultimately cost lives."

Wilson also told the Montana Free Press in an interview that the bill perpetuates false narratives about what transitioning means for transgender children by including bans on surgery in the legislation.

“Nobody is doing surgery on young children. It's just not happening," she said.

In addition to Montana, other states are considering similar legislation, both in policing transgender athletes' participation in sports and restricting medical care for transgender youth. According to Vice, there are 13 states in which lawmakers have already introduced bills attacking transgender equality, and most of them focus on health care for trans youth or stopping transgender people from playing on the sports team of their gender.

Nineteen bills that limited healthcare options for transgender youth were introduced in the past year, according to the ACLU.

Idaho was successful in passing legislation last year prohibiting transgender girls from playing on sports teams of their gender, as well as a bill that stops transgender people from amending the gender on their birth certificates.

The legislature also considered a bill that tried to stop health care providers from treating transgender youth but it died in committee, according to Vox.

The two bills enacted in Idaho have since been blocked by the courts.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.