Transgender issues complex

I know just enough about being transgender to know I may never understand it. 

I have three transgender friends–a trans female of my generation and two trans males of my grandchildren’s–and they are creative, fun, and sincere. We talk. Somehow, it’s been enough to know being transgender is part of their core.

 I certainly never planned on writing a column on the subject until three bills were introduced in the House–HBs 465, 500, and 509–that the Idaho American Civil Liberties Union has labelled “the most offensive and unconstitutional” of those being considered by any state. 

 And HB 509 has passed the State Affairs Committee and is going to the full House. 

This bill forbids changes in sex on a person’s birth certificate after the first month.  Rep. Julianne Young, the bill’s sponsor, has argued, “Biological sex is real. It never goes away. And it matters.” 

Ironically, the bill itself isn’t so adamant. It  recognizes that a baby’s biological sex cannot always be determined at birth from “externally observable reproductive anatomy.”  It allows amending the physician’s best guess later “based on the appropriate combination of genetic analysis and evaluation of the individual’s naturally occurring internal and external reproductive anatomy.” 

A little research into “genetic analysis” reveals that we are not all XX (female) or XY (male). Individuals may also be XXY, XYY, and even XXYY–most of whom appear to be male.  But some X chromosomes have Y characteristics, so some XX women with naturally high testosterone levels.  

And there are even ‘mosaics,’ people whose genes are not the same in every cell. 

Evaluation of ‘reproductive anatomy’ can also be complex.  The Intersex Society of North America estimates that each year 1500 children are born here with some combination of  female and male sex organs.   

Much of HB 509 argues that men and women are different, and we must record the original sex of every child for medical research to be valid. But if medical research were the real concern here, supporters would be arguing for more classifications than just M and F. 

I don’t know that anyone claims a connection between these physical anomalies and gender identification. I’m not sure it would make a difference. Does anyone have the right to dictate how others should feel at their core? 

The fiscal note says HB 509 would cost about $3,000 for web changes and outreach. 

A more accurate estimate would be over $400,000.  

Idaho allows sex changes on birth certificates now because in 2018 a Federal court ruled it must. There will certainly be lawsuits and, when Idaho loses, taxpayers will end up paying attorney fees for both sides.

HB 465 is also complicated by biology. It  would make it illegal for a doctor to provide gender transitioning treatment to anyone under 18.  

Now, I have a bias against the government interfering in an individual’s medical decisions or threatening doctors with jail for sharing their professional opinion.  (What all would Republicans be doing if they didn’t have to keep up the pretense of opposing ‘big government’?)  

This issue is particularly sensitive, however, because studies indicate that results from hormone therapy prior to puberty are different than results afterward. Delay affects not only when therapy occurs, but diminishes its results. And, yes, doctors do disagree on whether minors should undergo hormone treatment.  

Somehow, many Republican legislators believe parental rights include denying life-saving medications for their children and marrying off 14-year-old daughters to men decades older. 

How can these same legislators even consider denying parents access to professional help for a child struggling with gender identity? 

Published by Judy Ferro

Judy Ferro is communication director for the 2C Dems and a columnist for the Idaho Press.

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