Montana lawmakers are considering two bills aimed at changing how transgender youth participate in sports and receive medical treatment.
House Bill 112 would ban transgender women from competing with other women in interscholastic sports. House Bill 113 would prohibit physicians from treating transgender youth with hormone treatment or surgery.
Rep. John Fuller, a Republican from the Flathead, is carrying both bills. He cited his experience as a former teacher and coach when presenting the policies.
"I have spent my life’s career defending, teaching, counseling and encouraging children to achieve their dreams, and helping prevent them from making decisions that could irrevocably harm their future."
Fuller said he believes it’s unfair for trans women to compete in the sport consistent with their gender identity. The ban would put Montana at odds with NCAA rules that allow for the inclusion of trans athletes in collegiate sports.
Idaho passed nearly identical legislation last spring, but a district judge temporarily struck down the law after the American Civil Liberties Union challenged it as discriminatory.
Laurel Hesse is with ACLU of Montana.
"HB-12 discriminates on the basis of transgender status by categorically barring transgender women from participating in women’s sports. Federal law protects people against discrimination."
Hesse said the ACLU of Montana will challenge these bills in court if they’re passed into law.
A handful of people testified in support of either bill. Upwards of 50 people spoke in opposition to the bills.
House Bill 113 would prohibit physicians from treating transgender youth with hormone treatment or surgery.
Fuller and other conservatives argued changes in law are necessary to regulate health care for trans youth because they’re not old enough to make the decision to transition themselves.
Lauren Wilson, vice president of the Montana chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, spoke in opposition, saying the bill would penalize medical professionals for following best practices to treat gender dysphoria.
"This bill would cause incredible harm to transgender youth in Montana, and additionally would harm the large number of Montana pediatricians, family doctors, nurse practitioners and PAs who collaborate with Montana endocrinologists and psychologists to provide comprehensive team-based care for transgender youth," Wilson said.
The committee is expected to vote on whether to advance either bill this Friday.