“This Is A Huge Victory”

A controversial bill that would have penalized doctors who provided gender-affirming care to transgender minors or made referrals for that care died on the House floor Tuesday.

The Montana House on Tuesday voted 51-49 against the bill after losing the support of five Republicans who voted for it the day prior.

“This is a huge victory,” Caitlin Borgmann, the executive director of the ACLU of Montana, said in a statement.

“Montanans spoke up clearly that anti-trans laws have no place in Montana, and lawmakers listened. Trans youth — and trans people — deserve to live with dignity and respect,” said Borgmann. “Instead of stigmatizing and harming trans youth, our laws should support them.”

In total 18 Republicans and all 33 Democrats, who are the minority party in the House, voted against the bill.

Rep. Denley Loge (R-St. Regis) was one of the legislators who changed his vote. He said Tuesday his initial yes vote was “very conflicted.”

“I thought excluding medical treatment for pretty much anything is a little overreach,” Loge said after Tuesday’s vote. “To me, it didn’t necessarily have to do with being transgender. Sometimes you need medical treatment for things.”

After the floor session, Loge said he was happy with the outcome.

“I think I did the right thing,” Loge said.

Rep. Sue Vinton, a Republican who also changed her vote from a yes Monday to a no Tuesday, said she’s “been watching and studying and contemplating this bill for weeks. I can’t say that it was a 24-hour process. It was more of a couple-of-weeks-long process.”

Vinton said she’s been considering all perspectives around the legislation.

“I think yesterday and today, just like my fellow representatives did, I voted out of the concern for the health and safety of our children. I still have those concerns, but I can certainly see both aspects of the issue,” Vinton said.

Supporters argued the bill would protect minors from life-altering medical treatment they are not fully able to authorize. Opponents said prohibiting such care would harm the physical and mental well-being of transgender youth.

The House is also considering a bill that would prohibit transgender youth from participating in school sports according to the gender with which they identify. That bill was approved 62-38 on second reading Monday and still faces a third reading before it could move to the Senate.

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