This guest opinion is authored by the parent of a transgender child. It is deeply personal, hence some questions (and identity) are left unanswered. The GUARDIAN suspects the information will strike a chord with others experiencing the attempted invasion of privacy by the Idaho House of Representatives.
An odd dichotomy exists here in Idaho: the state Legislature is constantly flexing its muscles, claiming that the Federal government tramples the rights of the state. However, the Legislature seems to never stop navel-gazing long enough to realize just how much they trample the rights of the residents of Idaho.
This issue has reared its head once again, in the form of HB 675. Introduced by Bruce Skaug (R-Nampa), and tellingly, with Blaine Conzatti of the Idaho Family Policy Center listed as a contact, the House has decided, mostly along party lines, that gender-affirming care provided to minors should be illegal. Fortunately, Chuck Winder, Senate Pro-tem, has provided some adult supervision and indicated the bill will not get a hearing in the Senate. This has (somewhat) restored my faith in the “old-guard” of the Republican Party in Idaho, because ultimately this is an issue about how a family best raises its children, which has always been one of the core beliefs Republicans in Idaho claim to espouse.
You might be asking yourself: why does the writer care? Well, fifteen years ago my oldest child started expressing (to their mother) just how uncomfortable and inappropriate they felt with their “assigned” gender. My wife and I did not understand then, and to be honest, we still don’t understand, because to us the idea of having an incorrectly assigned gender seems so incredibly foreign.
We took the stance that our child wasn’t mature enough to fully understand the issue, and I even went so far as to attribute part of our child’s behavior to “trying to be cool and fit in” with the particular peer group they selected. The multiple times we ended up on suicide watch should have been the first clue there was more to our child’s statements about their gender than my wife and I believed.
We pushed back, continually. Even now, fifteen years later, we still don’t get it, and probably never will. For myself, I accept, even if I don’t agree: this is my child, and I love them. The world is a hard, cold, and unforgiving place. Sadly for my child, they know this all too well, and for too many years of their life, I was one of those making it hard, cold, and unforgiving.
I don’t remember the exact age when my child started their transition, but more important than the physical changes were the emotional changes. I saw my child’s self-esteem grow, which makes perfect sense: finally, the root of so many issues was being addressed. Our relationship is now better than ever, but somewhat bittersweet to me: I don’t see my child as much as I would like because they felt the need to move to a different state where the level of persecution non-traditional sexuality/gender is less.
Like too many things in life, I simply didn’t understand the issue until it affected me. That’s really a horrible way to learn: I often wonder how many people other than my child I hurt in the past with my callousness. Families dealing with gender issues are already struggling enough, and the licit use of power and punishment won’t do anything other than give the national audience of CNN something else to laugh at Idaho about, which is definitely not needed, not as long as Ammon Bundy keeps making the news.
Every time the Legislature is in session, I brace myself for the number of bills that claim to be “family-friendly”. Consider the arguments made in favor of school choice, sexual education, vaccination, and so on—the proponents of these bills always say “parents know best”. Why can’t a parent know best in this situation? And to penalize a medical provider for following a parent’s wishes seems to run counter to everything I witnessed here in Idaho during the COVID pandemic.
Idahoans claim to have Christian values (I definitely try to!), but many seem to forget the most important parts of the message: love one another as yourself, be an example of what you believe, and realize individuals will, in the long run, be held accountable for themselves. My children, although they aren’t believers, understand this. Why can’t Representative Skaug, and the 54 other legislators who voted for this do the same?
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