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House panel passes bill preventing certain care for transgender individuals

House Health and Human Services Committee hears testimony on HB1080 from the bill's prime sponsor, Rep. Bethany Soye.
Lee Strubinger
House Health and Human Services Committee hears testimony on HB1080 from the bill's prime sponsor, Rep. Bethany Soye.

A House panel has advanced a bill that prevents certain health care for transgender youth.

Backers say the bill is imperative to protect South Dakota kids. Critics say it could bring many unintended consequences.

Republican Rep. Bethany Soye is the prime sponsor of the bill. The banking lawyer from Sioux Falls said lawmakers must stand up for vulnerable children in the state.

“Medical providers in our state have become increasingly bold about the harmful chemical treatments and experimental procedures being conducted on children in our state," Soye said. "In the guise of medical treatment, children are being mutilated, sterilized and turned into permanent medical patients.”

During the bill hearing Tuesday, Soye did not bring evidence to support the assertion that the state’s medical providers are performing such procedures.

Soye’s bill prevents any kind of surgery or prescription to alter the appearance or validate the perception of a minor’s sex.

Similar bills have been introduced in North Dakota, Iowa, Utah, and other states.

The South Dakota legislature rejected a similar bill in 2020. The state legislature routinely debates bills aimed at the state’s transgender community.

Many state health care associations oppose the legislation. Other local health care officials say transgender medical care is necessary to ensure positive outcomes for transgender individuals. They said transgender individuals are not treated carelessly.

House Bill 1080 also subjects health care providers to civil lawsuits and strip them of their license.

Anne Dilenschneider is a Sioux Falls doctor and therapist who works with transgender people. She worries bills like this discourage health care providers from working in South Dakota.

“It’s disheartening that they don’t trust the professionals to do the jobs that we’re ethically required to do by our scope of practice and by our practice standards," Dilenschneider said. "It puts us in a bind. We could be sued either way.”

The bill passed along party lines, 11 to two. It now heads to the House floor.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
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