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Montana House advances transgender-athlete bill

Montana State Capitol
Posted at 12:08 PM, Jan 26, 2021

HELENA — On mostly party-line votes with Republicans in favor, the Montana House Monday advanced a pair of bills that would restrict transgender student-athletes and bar medical treatment for transgender youths in Montana.

Members voted 62-38 for House Bill 112, which says athletes at Montana schools and colleges can compete only on teams that align with their gender at birth.

But the margin was closer – 53-to-47 – on House Bill 113, which prohibits anyone under 18 from getting medical treatment or surgery for a sex-change. Fourteen Republicans joined all 33 Democrats in opposition.

(UPDATE: House Bill 113 failed 49-51 on its third reading vote Tuesday. Five additional House Rs voted "no" on Tuesday, including Majority Leader Sue Vinton, leading to its defeat.)

“Do you think, as a parent, if I have a kid that’s going through puberty and struggling that I’m not going to get the best possible care I can afford for them?” said Rep. Geraldine Custer of Forsyth, one of the Republicans who voted against HB113. “I don’t think you can take a unique medical problem and solve it with a religiously charged political decision.”

Rep. John Fuller, R-Whitefish, the sponsor of the two transgender bills, said the first one – HB112 – would protect women’s school sports, by preventing transgender boys from competing as women.

Opponents called the bill “a solution in search of a problem,” and noted that the Montana High School Association, which regulates high school athletics, has never had an issue with transgender competitors.

On his HB113, Fuller also said it’s meant to protect children from undergoing sex-change operations or other decisions that could affect them for a lifetime, and that the decision should be left to them when they become adults.

The bills face a final vote in the House before proceeding to the Senate for its consideration.