State legislatures are now in session, and Republicans around the country are unsurprisingly back on their bullshit—introducing bills meant to make the lives of trans students as mean and circumscribed as possible.
On Monday, Montana’s House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on two bills targeting trans youth, both of which were sponsored by Republican Representative John Fuller and which clearly draw on the spate of similar bills introduced in 2020. HB 112, dubbed the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” would bar trans girls from k-12 and in college from participating in girls’ sports. (In a clear sign of how much inspiration Fuller drew from efforts in other states, Idaho state Representative Barbara Ehardt, who sponsored Idaho’s version of the bill, testified on Monday in support of HB 112.) HB 113 would, among other provisions, bar medical professionals from prescribing puberty blockers and hormones to trans youth, with fines of up to $50,000 for those who violate the law.
In defending his two bills, Fuller has parroted the typical rightwing talking points about “fairness” and “protecting children,” cloaking his transphobia in fake concern. Fuller has claimed in interviews that he merely wants to “protect and defend women’s sports” and has described gender-affirming care and treatment as “barbaric behavior.”
During Monday’s hearing, opponents of both bills made clear the harm that would occur if the bills become law. “HB 113 would force courageous kids like my son who are living in pain and dysphoria to wait and suffer longer because they can’t get the help they need,” said Jaime Gabrielli, the mother of a trans son. Gabrielli added, “Making necessary medical care that trans kids rely on illegal does not protect them.”
Montana is not the only state where Republicans are eagerly pushing the latest front in their culture war against trans rights, painting gender-affirming care as akin to child abuse and warning darkly that trans girls competing in sports according to their gender identity will destroy women’s sports. It’s obvious why Republicans have now turned to these attacks—so-called “bathroom bills” have failed, and conservative lawmakers have seized upon using trans children as political fodder, believing that both demonizing them and expressing a fake concern for their welfare at the same time is a winning playbook.
The ACLU of Montana has promised to sue the state if the bills are passed. “Make no mistake: these bills target and attack trans youth and will cause them serious and lasting harm,” the ACLU of Montana’s Executive Director Caitlin Borgmann wrote in a statement. “We cannot let fear-mongering and lies about what it means to be transgender result in laws that would stigmatize trans youth, harm families and communities, and drive businesses away from Montana.”