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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
29 Apr 2023

NextImg:Montana Gov. Signs Bill Banning Transgender Surgeries for Children

Montana’s Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte on Friday signed a bill restricting transgender procedures for minors.

The bill, the “Youth Health Protection Act” (pdf), prohibits certain medical and surgical procedures—including puberty blockers—for children struggling with gender dysphoria.

According to the text of the legislation, the measure seeks to enhance the protection of minors from “any form of pressure to receive harmful, experimental puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones and to undergo irreversible, life-altering surgical procedures” prior to entering adulthood.

In a statement, Gianforte’s press secretary Kaitlin Price said that the governor is “committed to protecting Montana children from invasive medical treatments that can permanently alter their healthy, developing bodies.”

Gianforte signaled his willingness to sign the bill on April 17 when he offered several amendments that make it clear that public funds could not be used to pay for hormone blockers, cross-sex hormones, or surgeries.

The Republican governor said he had met with transgender youth and adults and sympathized with their struggles. At the same time, he wrote in a letter to legislative leaders that any surgeries or treatments with hormones should wait until they’re adults as the science around the impact of various gender transition procedures remains unsettled and continues to evolve.

State Sen. John Fuller, a Republican who co-sponsored the bill, said in a statement about Gianforte’s signing of the measure that the governor is “supporting the health and safety of Montana’s children.”

The bill is slated to become law on Oct. 1, adding Montana to a growing list of around a dozen states that have passed similar laws protecting minors from potentially life-altering procedures framed by their supporters as “gender-affirming care.”

Opponents of the measure, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana, have said they would take legal action against the legislation.

“Gender-affirming care is a critical part of helping transgender adolescents succeed in school, establish healthy relationships with their friends and family, live authentically as themselves, and dream about their futures,” the trio of organizations said in a statement.

“If this bill is signed into law, we will defend the rights of transgender youth in court, just as we have done in other states engaging in this anti-science and discriminatory fear-mongering,” they added.

Some Montana health providers opposed to SB 99 said Friday that the procedures remain legal until Oct. 1 and, if legal challenges succeed, beyond that.

“My bottom line to families is that this care remains legal,” Dr. Kathryn Lowe, a Bozeman pediatrician and member of the Montana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told the Montana Free Press.

“To all the families who are panicking, who are moving, who are listing their houses to sell … we have great hope that [SB 99] will never take effect.”

Montana state Rep. Zooey Zephyr, a Democrat who is openly transgender, decried the bill’s signing, saying it’s “unconscionable to deprive Montanans of the care that we need.”

Zephyr, a male who identifies as female, said the bill is “as cruel as it is unconstitutional” and that “it will go down in the courts.”

Montana lawmakers on Wednesday voted to bar Zephyr from voting on the House floor after he broke decorum by telling legislators in a debate earlier in the week that they would have “blood on [their] hands” if they backed the transgender procedure ban for minors.