The bill that will outlaw surgical and non-surgical gender-affirming treatments for transgender adolescents in the state was signed into law by South Dakota’s Republican governor, Kristi Noem, on Monday.
HB 1080 forbids the prescription and administration of sex hormones, surgery for gender transformation, and the use of puberty-blocking drugs in children under the age of 18.
The new law, which goes into effect on July 1, exposes healthcare practitioners to legal lawsuits and the possibility of losing their professional or vocational licenses. “The youth of South Dakota are our future.
We are defending children from hazardous, long-lasting medical operations with this legislation,” Noem said in a news release Monday. “I will always stand up for the next generation of South Dakotans.”
With Noem’s signing, South Dakota became the newest Republican-led state to restrict trans youngsters’ access to gender-affirming therapies. The state had previously sought to prohibit transgender girls and women from participating in school sports teams that align with their gender identity.
The state House adopted the bill in a 60-10 vote earlier this month, and the state Senate on Thursday voted 30-4 to send it to the governor. Gender-affirming care is evidence-based, medically necessary care that employs a multidisciplinary approach to assist a person in transitioning from their assigned gender—the gender they were given at birth—to their affirmed gender—the gender they choose to be identified by. On Thursday, Al Novstrup, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, claimed that the legislation offers “real help.”
“We care deeply about children struggling with their identities and want to provide them with significant help, not permanent physical damage,” the Republican said.
Even though Noem and Novstrup cautioned against “permanent” modifications, the legal procedure is not entirely irreversible. Some kids may undergo reversible puberty suppression treatment even if gender-affirming care is personalized.
Hormone therapy, which can result in gender-affirming physical changes, may also be a part of this process. However, surgical operations are not frequently performed on children, and many medical professionals do not provide them to youngsters. The measure’s opponents underlined that it would harm transgender children and that it was a government intrusion into personal medical choices.
“Surgeries-gone-wrong is simply not happening in South Dakota,” Democratic state Sen. Liz Larson said during a debate before the bill’s passage. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t need the state legislature when I’m in the doctor’s office.”
The Trevor Project said in a statement Monday that the ban “denies transgender and nonbinary youth crucial support and care.”
Politicians are interfering with the private medical decisions that are best left to transgender young people and their families, according to Casey Pick, director of law and policy for the nonprofit organization that promotes the mental health of LGBTQ youth, “even in the face of professional guidance from every major medical and mental health association in the country that supports this type of care.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of South Dakota also issued a statement Monday condemning the new law, calling the signing a “heartbreaking and tragic day for thousands of South Dakotans and their families.”
“This ban won’t stop South Dakotans from being trans, but it will deny them critical support that helps struggling transgender youth grow up to become thriving transgender adults,” the statement said.
“As much as Governor Noem wants to force these young people to live a lie, we know they are strong enough to live their truth, and we will always fight for communities and policies that protect their freedom to do so.”
After numerous states took action in 2022, South Dakota is the second state in recent weeks to impose limitations on care for transgender youth that is gender affirming.
Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah, a Republican, signed a bill late last month prohibiting hormone therapy and surgical procedures for adolescents seeking gender-affirming care.
While Alabama had earlier that same month approved a law making it a crime for doctors to provide gender-affirming care to minors, The Florida Department of Health stated in April that children who identify as transgender or gender diverse should not be offered any social transition care.
This year, the number of states with restrictions may increase further. Through February 9, more than 80 measures aiming to limit gender-affirming access to care have been introduced across the nation, according to information gathered by the ACLU and provided to CNN.
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