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Bill prohibiting certain health care for transgender youth heads to Noem


Senate Republicans are advancing a bill that prohibits doctors from prescribing puberty blockers and cross sex hormones to transgender kids.

Lawmakers are focused on prohibiting certain surgeries on adolescents. The bill is part of a national effort to prohibit certain forms of healthcare for transgender youth.

Local health care officials—like the South Dakota State Medical Association—say health care for transgender youth is complex. They say the bill is government intervention on the doctor-patient relationship.

The bill prohibits puberty blockers for minors. Proponents say blockers are inhumane and cause permanent damage to the body. However, the medication is used regularly on children who start puberty early.

Attempts to amend that out of the bill were unsuccessful.

“Let’s let the parents and the children and the doctor work together to figure out what’s best for that child so they can have the best life possible and not end up in suicide,” said Republican Tim Reed, who brought the amendment.

Republican state Senator Michael Diedrich questions whether the puberty blocker and cross sex hormone therapy ban falls under mental health, or what the bill prohibits—which is for the purpose of changing the appearance of a minor’s sex.

Still, Diedrich, who is a top hospital administrator for Monument Health in Rapid City, voted in favor of the bill and expects the state will get sued.

“There’s a national effort to resolve that—all of those in the court system,” Diedrich said.

Similar laws have passed in Arkansas and Alabama. They’re enjoined in federal courts.

Senate Democrats voted against the bill. State Senator Reynold Nesiba says the bill puts doctors at odds with peer reviewed, international standards of care for transgender youth.

“So, if doctors follow their professional standards they’re going to be in violation of the law,” Nesiba said. “If they follow the law they’re going to be in violation of standards of care. It’s impossible for them.”

The bill passed along party lines, 30 to 4. It now heads to Gov. Kristi Noem’s desk. She’s expected to sign the legislation.

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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