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James Bradley
Legislative News Service
UM School of Journalism
Jan. 18, 2021

HELENA -- Lawmakers in the House Judiciary Committee heard more than four hours of at times emotionally charged public testimony Monday on two bills that would limit how transgender youth access healthcare or participate in sports. 

Rep. John Fuller, R-Kalispell, sponsored House Bills 112 and 113. HB 112 would prevent trangender women and girls from competing in women’s sports. HB 113 would prevent doctors from providing gender-affirming healthcare to minors.

Fuller said although the bills he sponsored are controversial, all sides of the argument stand on some common ground.

“Each and every one of us that has testified here today, or has sat here today, desires that our children be given the best possible care,” Fuller said.

SK Rossi spoke on behalf of the cities of Bozeman and Missoula, and said the bills were an overreach of the government.

“These bills are divisive,” Rossi said “They’re cruel, and Missoula and Bozeman will not stand by while our residents, especially our kids, are put in the crosshair of state policy.”

Religious leaders also weighed in on both bills.

Jeff Laszloffy, president of the Montana Family Foundation, said during his testimony in support of HB 112 that allowing transgender women and girls to compete in women’s sports is a violation of Title IX, which provides fair and equal opportunity for women in sports.

“The fact is that’s what this bill is all about,” Laszloffy said. It’s about maintaining the gains that have been made since Title IX was passed in 1972.”

Later opponents pointed out that there is no statistical difference between trans and cisgender women after hormone treatments.

Laszloffy also testified on behalf of HB 113, saying that allowing children to make decisions about their gender expression is a mistake.

“Children should not make irreversible decisions at a time in life when they’re going through the greatest change,” Laszloffy said. “Let’s give them a chance to grow up first.”

Rev. Laura Jean Allen is a pastor at First Christian Church in Helena. She quoted the Book of John from the Bible in her opposition to HB 113. 

“John 10:10 tells us that Christ came so that we may all experience life abundant,” Allen said. 

Allen said “life abundant” means living freely and openly while receiving necessary care. She also called on lawmakers to love their transgender neighbors. 

The committee is expected to vote on the bills Friday.

 

James Bradley is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

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