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With anti-trans bills adopted, Idaho set to be added to CA, SF banned travel list

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 Idaho Governor Brad Little. Photo: Courtesy AP
Idaho Governor Brad Little. Photo: Courtesy AP   

With Idaho's adoption of two anti-transgender bills this month, the state can now expect to see it be added to the banned travel lists kept by California and San Francisco.

For five years now both the state and city have restricted taxpayer-funded travel to states that discriminate against LGBT people except for emergency purposes. The Golden State's "no-fly" list covers government workers, academics, and college sports teams at public universities.

San Francisco not only bans non-essential travel to the states on the list but also restricts city agencies and departments from signing contracts with businesses based there. At the moment there are 11 states on the two lists, which mirror one another, and in February Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued California in federal court over its list.

The Gem State is now assured of becoming the 12th state on both lists now that Governor Brad Little has signed into law two bills that restrict the rights of transgender Idaho citizens. Monday, March 30, he signed Idaho House Bill 500, which requires transgender students to participate in athletics based on their gender assigned at birth, and Idaho House Bill 509, which bars updates to birth certificates issued to transgender people.

Little's signing the two bills into law amid the global novel coronavirus outbreak was swiftly condemned by LGBT rights groups, which for weeks had mobilized their supporters to contact Little and urge him not to sign the pair of discriminatory bills. Transgender advocacy organizations had been leading the campaign against the bills and similar legislation introduced this year in more than a dozen statehouses.

"Passing laws that single out and attacks trans people, and especially trans youth, at time when our world is grappling with an unprecedented global health crisis is irresponsible and wrong," stated Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center. "Our local and federal government policies and actions must be focused entirely on keeping people safe and healthy, not advancing discrimination and deliberately causing harm."

Juniperangelica Cordova, the senior organizer for TRUTH (TRans yoUTH), a youth media and organizing program of Genders & Sexualities Alliance, noted that Idaho's HB 500 denies trans youth the experiences all students in school deserve and singles out trans young people like herself "for isolation, bullying, and violence."

Cordova, who has been backing a California bill aimed at ensuring the state's public colleges don't deadname trans graduates on their diplomas like UC Berkeley did to her last year, criticized Idaho lawmakers for supporting the two transphobic laws.

"It is incomprehensible that Governor Little and lawmakers in Idaho would turn a moment of national crisis into an opportunity to attack vulnerable young people," she stated. "Showing up for trans youth is more important now than ever."

The Human Rights Campaign, the national LGBT rights group, warned that HB 500 not only forbids transgender girls from being able to play on sports teams with other girls but also will subject all girls to the risk of invasive, expensive, and inappropriate testing. It noted that Idaho's current attorney general and five previous attorneys general of Idaho all urged the Legislature and governor to prevent the bill from becoming law because it is unconstitutional.

"We are living in an unprecedented global health crisis, with confirmed cases of COVID-19 increasing on a daily basis in Idaho, across the United States and around the world, but Governor Brad Little and the Idaho legislature have decided to prioritize the demonization of transgender people," stated HRC President Alphonso David. "This is unacceptable, and a gross misuse of taxpayer funds and trust. Idaho is leading the way in anti-transgender discrimination, and at a time when life is hard enough for everyone, Idaho's elected leaders will be remembered for working to make their transgender residents' lives even harder. Shame on Governor Little and the legislators who championed these heinous pieces of legislation."

The Idaho chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union condemned Little's signing of the "discriminatory, unconstitutional, and deeply hurtful anti-transgender bills into law. Leaders from the business, faith, medical, education and athletics communities will not forget this decision or what it says about the governor's priorities during a global pandemic."

The ACLU pledged to sue Little in court. It also encouraged people to email the governor at governor@gov.idaho.gov and call him at 208-334-2100 and tweet him @GovernorLittle to express their disappointment.

"We encourage all Idahoans to email, call, and tweet Gov. Little to express outrage and disappointment at wasting precious taxpayer resources on blatantly anti-transgender bills at a time when we should be coming together for the health and wellbeing of our people," it stated.

Spokespeople for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and City Administrator Naomi Kelly, who oversee which states are added to the state and city travel bans, respectively, did not immediately respond to the Bay Area Reporter's request for comment late Monday about when Idaho would be added to the lists.

They both last added Iowa to the lists in September after Hawkeye State lawmakers adopted House File Bill No. 766 (HF 766) on May 3 last year. The bill repealed existing protections under the Iowa Civil Rights Act that previously ensured Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care.

Also on the lists are South Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kansas.

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