Despite the current pandemic, it’s politics as usual, and each day new laws are being signed that threaten people’s rights to abortion, transgender people’s rights and more. On Monday, March 30, Idaho Governor Brad Little signed two bills into law that are both targeted at gender: the House Bills will both ultimately limit the rights of transgender people in the state.
House Bill 500 (HB500) bans transgender girls from playing on girls’ and women’s sports teams, while House Bill 509 (HB509) prohibits transgender people from changing their gender identity markers on birth certificates in Idaho. The first bill, also known as the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which works in tandem with the second, states that “athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex.”
With the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act signed into action, the privacy of transgender people’s lives will be severely disrupted. The act allows for any athlete’s right to play on a women’s team as subject to physical examination. According to the bill’s stipulations, “the student’s reproductive anatomy, genetic makeup, or normal endogenously 19 produced testosterone levels” will all be qualifiers for admission to sports teams of their preferred gender. And, because the second bill, HB509, does not allow transgender people to change their birth certificates to match their true genders, they can be discriminated against on the basis of the gender marker on their original certificate.
A federal court in Idaho had already previously struck down another bill that sought to prevent gender markers from being changed on birth certificates in 2018, when a federal judge issued a ruling blocking the state from prohibiting changes to gender markers on birth certificates, as it violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.
“The passage of HB500 is a dangerous assault on trans justice and trans people for multiple reasons, Chase Strangio, Deputy Director for Trans Justice, LGBT & HIV Project for ACLU, tells Refinery29. “First, it marks the first explicitly anti-trans bill (along with HB509, which Governor Little also signed yesterday) to become law since HB2. Further, it marks the power of the government taking aim on trans lives and embedding in law a dangerous definition of sex designed to exclude trans, intersex and gender non-conforming people from participation in basic aspects of public life.”
According to Strangio, taking aim at trans youth — barring them from sports and implementing a form of sex testing that has long-been abandoned at all levels of competition — creates an imminent threat to the lives of trans youths in our country. “Idaho is setting a dangerous precedent for intrusions into the lives and bodies of all youth,” Strangio says.
On Trans Day Of Visibility, the threat is even more obvious to the trans community and the health of transgender youth across the country. The National Center for Transgender Equality also denounced the act, calling it “shameful” for the Idaho governor to perpetuate this type of pointed gender discrimination.
While Strangio says that the bill currently has no mechanisms for enforcement, it opens the door to illegal and invasive intrusions into the bodies of all women and girls. “It allows anyone to ‘dispute’ a girl’s sex without any guidance and potentially subject any young person to such invasive intrusions as genital exams, genetic testing, and hormone testing.” Strangio and the ACLU are adamant that the government won’t get away with legitimizing this “assault on trans bodies and lives” and that it’s now the job of community members to speak up from imposing these types of laws against people who face unprecedented levels of assault.
“We are watching our friends die, governments attempt to criminalize our health care and efforts to exclude youth from the sports they love through the codification of unscientific and inhumane definitions of ‘sex,'” says Strangio, who has been trying to spread awareness of the bills recently. “We will call upon our long legacy of organizing and resistance to fight these attacks. I trust that we will win and I am just sorry for all the trans Idahoans and our allies who are subjected to this gratuitous abject cruelty.”
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