Idaho’s Ban on LGBTQ+ Healthcare for Minors Parents and Legislators Weigh in

Idaho’s Ban on LGBTQ+ Healthcare for Minors: Parents and Legislators Weigh in

BOISE, ID — Gage Neuenschwander’s mother, Jennifer Wardwell, described them as calm and nice. However, when Gage was 14, she sensed a change, and shortly after, Gage approached her with something that had been on their mind. “Gage just told me they were transgender.” I said, “Awesome.” I love you. I support you. What do we want to do? So, let’s do it. “We’re in this together,” Wardwell stated.

Wardwell told NonStop Local that things appeared to be going well until early April when something went badly wrong. “I told Dad, I need you to go check on Gage. Something’s not right, and when my father found them, they were gone.” Wardwell described it as a moment she would never forget.

“It was the worst day of my life,” Wardwell explained.

Wardwell stated that, while Gage was in the process of changing, the causes of their demise were complex. “It is not as simple as, ‘Oh, another trans kid committed suicide.'” It is not that straightforward. “There are so many layers to being trans, and the depression and anxiety are very real.”

Although Gage was a legal adult at the time of their death, their mother elected to start them on hormone replacement treatment, or HRT, while Gage was still a minor, stating, “It was my choice as a parent to support that.”

She said that they did not make this decision lightly; “we also saw psychologists, psychiatrists, a hormone specialist, and a bunch of other people who confirmed that you know, yes, this is your identity.” Wardwell and her family live in Cheney, but she was greatly upset by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Idaho to restrict minors from receiving gender-affirming care.

“When young children are told that they cannot receive gender-affirming care, it might be life or death. “It’s life or death.”

Wardwell noted that, while people who favor the Supreme Court case may argue that transitions can still be made by legal adults, she believes that aging is a privilege that many who are now barred from getting gender-affirming care may not have.

“There may not be an older, they may not make it to 18,” Wardwell added.

She has a clear warning for Idaho lawmakers: “Children will die. People are hurt by this. It’s a question of life or death. “It is serious.” Idaho State Representative Jordan Redman told Nonstop Local that he supports the new state law prohibiting gender-affirming care for kids.

“I believe these are extremely important decisions with long-term consequences, so I supported them. And I believe they should not be manufactured, and no state funding should be used to support them,” Redman said. NonStop Local asked Redman if he, as a father, empathizes with parents like Wardwell. He contends that everyone’s objective is the same.

“We want to ensure that children have the best way forward. “It’s just that we have different ideas about what that help is,” Redman explained. Although there were sad moments when speaking with the Wardwell family about Gage, a visible light shone through. We shared stories about their best times.

When we asked Wardwell’s youngest son Briggs why it was so important for him to talk about his older sibling, his response was straightforward. “So I can remember them and stuff like that.”

Wardwell stated that she misses her oldest kid deeply, not just for the large things, but also for the minor ones, such as one less laugh and the sound of their footsteps. “I was like, oh, I [have to] tell Gage, and then it comes crashing down, oh yeah, I can’t.”

Wardwell’s message to all parents focused on tolerance and inclusion.

“Simply accept and adore. “That is all that matters.”

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