Republicans advance bills restricting transgender youth, athletes

Posted at 2:56 PM, Mar 18, 2021

HELENA — Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday advanced a pair of bills restricting transgender athletes and medical procedures for transgender youth, sending both measures to the Senate floor.

The bills advanced on straight party-line votes, 7-4, with Republicans in favor.

Democrats on the panel teed off on both bills, calling them hypocritical, “cruel and malicious,” “deeply disturbing,” petty and likely unconstitutional.

“It is one of the most hateful, heinous bills this session has ever considered, and I’m ashamed of us and anyone who votes for it,” said Sen. Diane Sands, D-Missoula, of the transgender youth bill.

House Bill 112 says student athletes in Montana must participate on school sports teams according to their gender at birth.

HB427 would ban any surgical or medical procedures for gender transition for anyone younger than 18. It also would prohibit physicians in Montana from referring any youths to other providers for any such procedure.

Both bills, which have passed the House, are sponsored by Rep. John Fuller, R-Kalispell.

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee made no comments Thursday before voting for the bills.

Sen. Bryce Bennett, D-Missoula, called the bills “the dumbest fight we may have in the whole Legislature,” saying they would portray Montana as an “unaccepting” state and discourage businesses from relocating here.

“It’s another cruel and malicious bill going after the LGBTQ+ community,” he said of HB112.

Sands also said the HB427 tramples over the rights of parents to decide what’s best for their child and likely violates the constitution, by forbidding physicians from even referring patients to procedures elsewhere.