“You Are What You Love”: Transgender Equality in Montana

Current proposed bills in the Montana state legislature threaten the rights of transgender students.

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Currently, there are two Republican-proposed bills in the Montana state government that would restrict and violate the rights of transgender citizens. The first bill, House Bill 112, would require schools to determine the biological sex of a student before that student could play a sport. House Bill 113 would prohibit doctors from giving gender transformation treatments to minors.

Montana House Bill 112 creates an act known as the Save Women’s Sports Act. This act would require students to play sports according to their Sex Assigned At Birth (SAAB). Originally, the bill blocked both male and female transgender students, but it has since been revised to block only female transgender students. This might not seem like a huge issue when taken at face value, but regardless of your stance on the matter of these sports teams themselves, this bill presents some underlying issues.

Schools would need to establish a clear consensus on the birth sex of each student before that student could participate in any gender-based activity.

If it happened that a transgender student got onto a team that did not correspond with their SAAB this would be a violation of the act, and another student may raise legal action against the school under Section 3. This risk of legal action against the school effectively rules out the use of the honor system. While school-affiliated coaches could examine available birth certificates, this would not be gender-affirming for the student.

House Bill 112 is not only morally unethical but also unlawful. Neither the school boards nor the state of Montana has constitutional authority over this aspect of schools. It is also unconstitutional to discriminate against someone based upon their gender and perceived “looks,” as ruled in the Supreme Court case Bostock vs. Clayton County, Georgia. This language is specifically crafted to protect transgender individuals.

House Bill 112 is not only morally unethical but also unlawful.

The topic of gender and perceived gender identity brings me to my next issue, HB 113. House Bill 113 makes provisions for an act known as the Youth Health Protection Act. This act would prohibit doctors from administering gender transition procedures to people under 18. This includes surgical treatments, hormone injections and puberty-blocking drugs. Under House Bill 113, a doctor also may not refer a patient out of state for these procedures.

Like House Bill 112, House Bill 113 presents its own underlying issues. Gender dysphoria is a psychological disorder that causes a transgender person to feel depressed or anxious because their SAAB does not match up with the sex they identify as. If left unchecked, gender dysphoria can lead to behaviors of self-harm or suicide. Some may argue that labeling gender dysphoria as a disorder belittles the transgender experience, as the symptoms of gender dysphoria are merely by-products of living in an unsupportive community. But until those entirely supportive societies can be created, treatments for gender dysphoria are crucial.

Typically, these treatments include various types of gender affirmation. This could include social affirmation, such as change of name or pronouns, or physical affirmation such as injections or transformative surgery. House Bill 113 would prevent Montana’s transgender youth from seeking physical affirmation, one of the most effective treatments for gender dysphoria. It is immoral to deny treatment to a person with a recognized medical condition. For this reason, HB 113 is morally unethical and must be struck down.

House Bill 113 would prevent Montana’s transgender youth from seeking physical affirmation, one of the most effective treatments for gender dysphoria.

In this day and age we cannot remain indifferent to the struggles of others simply because they are not our own. We must remember the words of John Wesley: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

So please, my fellow Montanans, contact your local representatives and plead with them to vote no on House Bills 112 and 113. To all of America, if you see legislation similar to this cropping up in your area, do everything in your power to stop it. Remember that all Americans have the right to pursue happiness, regardless of labels. In the words of musical icon and LGBTQIA+ ally Taylor Swift, “You are what you love.”