Montana becomes the latest state to ban "gender affirming care" for minors. On Friday, Governor Greg Gianforte (R) signed Senate Bill 99 (the Youth Health Protection Act) following previously requested amendments to define "male" and "female."
The bill stated that no synthetic drug may be used to suppress the production of testosterone in males or estrogen in females in order to address a minor's perception that their gender is not the same as their sex. It also listed the surgical procedures a doctor may not perform on minors in the state. SB 99 did make an exception for those diagnosed with intersex conditions.
The bill also described what ramifications health care professionals face for violation of the law. It said that they will have "engaged in unprofessional conduct and is subject to discipline by the appropriate licensing entity or disciplinary review board with competent jurisdiction in this state. That discipline must include suspension of the ability to administer health care or practice medicine for at least 1 year."
It continued that parents of the minor would "have a private cause of action for damages and equitable relief as the court may determine is justified. The court may also award reasonable attorney fees and court costs to a prevailing party."
The governor's office spokesperson Kaitlin Price said in a statement, "As the governor indicated in his amendatory veto letter, he is committed to protecting Montana children from invasive medical treatments that can permanently alter their healthy, developing bodies."
The bill's signing comes as it was revealed that Governor Gianforte’s son David, who identifies as non-binary, urged his father to veto three bills, including SB 99, which he feels would be harmful to transgender community.
Of the bills, the younger Gianforte said, "For my own sake I've chosen to focus primarily on transgender rights, as that would significantly directly affect a number of my friends … I would like to make the argument that these bills are immoral, unjust, and frankly a violation of human rights."
Last week Rep. Zooey Zephyr was barred from the Montana House floor for statements she made on the bills. Zephyr said on the floor, "If you vote yes on this bill and yes on these amendments, I hope the next time there's an invocation when you bow your heads in prayer, you will see the blood on your hands."
Gov. Gianforte said at the time he supported Zephyr and all LGBTQ+ people, but in a statement on medicalizing minors he said, "Given the unsettled, evolving science around invasive medical treatments for children struggling with gender identity, it is right and appropriate to protect young Montanans from these permanent, life-altering procedures."
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