Building Community in the Face of Anti-Trans Legislation

In my role as Pride Foundation’s regional officer in Idaho over the last decade, I’ve attended and testified many times at the Idaho Legislature, championing LGBTQ+ equity in this state. Never in my tenure have I witnessed a legislative year as profoundly anti-LGBTQ+ as the 2020 session, and specifically, so much legislation targeted against transgender people.

Three anti-trans bills sponsored by Republicans were introduced this session in the Idaho House. Two of them passed, despite hours upon hours of overwhelming testimony against them during public hearings, and were sadly signed into law by Gov. Brad Little yesterday, March 30.

One, called the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” bans transgender girls and women from competing in women’s sports in public schools, colleges, and universities. The second bill, called the “Idaho Vital Statistics Act,” prohibits transgender people from changing the sex on their birth certificate. The law requires people to complete DNA/chromosome testing and/or supply medical attestation before they can change their gender marker on their birth certificate. Both bills are likely to be challenged in court. 

The third bill, which thankfully died in committee, would have changed current Idaho law to make it illegal for healthcare providers to provide medically necessary care to trans youth by charging doctors with a felony, punishable with up to life in prison, for providing gender-affirming healthcare.

While it was painfully difficult to watch these harmful and blatantly discriminatory bills make their way through the Legislature, there was something else happening that filled me with so much hope.

LGBTQ+ folks and allied organizations rallied together on the ground to mobilize supporters, testify at hearings, and educate people daily through social media posts about where the bills stood. Notable among them were incredible partners and grantees of Pride Foundation: Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, ACLU of Idaho, Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence, and Add the Words, Idaho.

Pride Foundation was proud to support these efforts at the Idaho Legislature this session with a Rapid Response Fund grant to Add the Words, Idaho.

Watching the courage of the many trans and gender diverse Idahoans, their families, friends, healthcare providers, and so many more who testified against these bills—alongside the determined efforts of these organizations—inspired my own letter to Gov. Little, urging him to veto these bills:

“As someone who works for an organization that for 35 years has supported LGBTQ+ people in five states, including Idaho, through grants and scholarships, and education and advocacy, I can tell you with certainty that these two bills will only serve to further hurt transgender people, who are feeling constantly under attack by misguided bills like these, and fearful and uncertain in a world that often won’t accept them for the beautiful people they are.

And I feel I need to emphasize this—transgender people ARE people. I work alongside people who are transgender. I have friends who are transgender. They all have the same dreams and aspirations that you and I do to live their lives to the fullest potential. Legislation like this is nothing more than veiled attempts to further marginalize transgender people—and in effect, erase their existence.”

Despite the passage of these bills, I know that good people in this state will always continue to step up and speak out in support of LGBTQ+ Idahoans. As I’ve always believed—Idaho is too great for hate.


Steve Martin is Regional Officer in Idaho.

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