Bill introduced to prevent gender-affirming care for transgender youth
Some Republican state lawmakers want to block transgender minors from accessing gender-affirming care.
The bill mirrors ones passed in other states.
Health officials say bills like this contradict best medical practices for transgender people.
The bill prohibits medical professionals from prescribing hormone therapy and puberty blockers. The latter is given to transgender teens and preteens to delay puberty until they’re old enough for certain procedures.
Both treatments are vetted by mainstream medical organizations like the American Medical Association, Psychiatric Association and American Academy of Pediatrics.
The bill also prohibits sterilization and reconstruction surgeries for minors. No providers perform those types of surgeries in the state.
Republican Representative Bethany Soye is the prime sponsor of the bill. She likens gender-affirming care for minors to underage prohibitions on drinking, smoking and getting a tattoo.
“We care about vulnerable children,” Soye said. “We want to provide them with true help. Not mutilating and sterilizing procedures.”
The South Dakota State Medical Association opposes the bill. The president for the group said access to care for transgender people is an important means of improving health outcomes.
"Receiving care is linked to reductions in the rate of suicide attempts, decreased rates of depression and anxiety, and decreased substance use in transgender people,” said Lucio Margallo, president of the South Dakota State Medical Association. “These positive health effects extend to children and adolescents as well. Every major health association in the U.S. recognizes the medical necessity of care for improving the physical and mental health of transgender people.”
The state legislature rejected a similar proposal in 2020. Social conservatives in South Dakota routinely introduce bills aimed at transgender youth and individuals.
Susan Williams is the executive director of the Transformation Project, a transgender advocacy group in South Dakota. She said the bill is government overreach.
“Pure and simple,” Williams said in a statement. “Transgender youth, like any youth, have the best chance to thrive when they are supported and can get the health care they need. This bill would take that away from transgender youth in our state."
The bill also requires licensing boards to revoke a health professional's certification if they violate this law. House Bill 1080 opens up an avenue for civil actions, as well.