HELENA — Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte has indicated support for a bill that would restrict gender-affirming care from being provided to minors in Montana, but he requested the Legislature make amendments before he signs it into law.
Gianforte returned Senate Bill 99, sponsored by Sen. John Fuller, R-Kalispell, to the Legislature. The bill would ban hormone treatments, such as puberty blockers or hormone boosters, and surgeries for people under the age of 18 seeking to medically transition to a gender identity different from the sex they were assigned at birth. Healthcare providers who violate the could face penalties, including a yearlong suspension of their authority to practice and potential legal liability.
In his letter to President of the Senate Jason Ellsworth and Speaker of the House Matt Regier, both Republicans, Gianforte states that he has met with transgender youth and adults, recognizes their struggles are real, and believes “Montanans who struggle with their gender identity deserve love, compassion, and respect.”
The governor further voiced his opposition to gender-affirming care and notes other Western countries that do not allow sex-reassignment surgery on minors.
(Read Gov. Gianforte's full letter)
Proposed amendments from Gianforte include clarifying the definition of male and female.
He also asks that exceptions be made for reproductive organ removal in the cases of biological or genetic conditions including a cancer diagnosis or if the child has a “medically verifiable disorder of sex development.” According to HealthyChildren.org, around 1 in 2,000 people born will have a disorder of sex development such as the individual possessing both testicular and ovarian tissue.
Finally, the governor requests clarifying prohibitions on using public resources for medical or social transitioning of transgender youth.
Opponents of SB 99 have indicated in testimony that surgeries and hormone treatments outlined are done on more than just transgender youth, and prohibiting them only to that group was a form of discrimination. They also stated restrictions would interfere with a family’s ability to make medical decisions.
“The bottom line is that under this bill, only some Montanans can access care, only some parents can make the choices that they deem fit for their kids, only some kids can live their life as they choose,” said Rep. Laurie Bishop, D-Livingston, on March 23.
(Gov. Gianforte's proposed amendments)