South Dakota Advances Ban on Gender-Affirming Care for Minors
Author: Trudy Ring
A bill to ban gender-affirming care for minors in South Dakota came closer to becoming law Thursday, with the House of Representatives passing it and sending it to the Senate.
The legislation, House Bill 1080, would ban not only genital surgery, which is hardly ever performed on minors, but other types of surgery as well as hormone treatment and puberty blockers. If the bill becomes law, health care professionals who violate it could lose their licenses and also be sued.
It passed the House by a vote of 60-10. Democratic Rep. Kameron Nelson, the first out gay man in the legislature, and six other Democrats voted against it, as did three Republicans, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports.
Nelson spoke out strongly against the legislation after its sponsor, Republican Rep. Bethany Soye, said it’s intended to help children. “These children and youth are working with their counselors, parents, and friends to find out who they are,” he said, according to the ArgusLeader. “How dare you sit and stand on this floor today and tell these children that they don’t know who they are and that you know better than them?”
Rep. Jessica Olson, one of the Republicans who opposed the bill, said parents can decide if their children should undergo the procedures, and she wondered if many minors in South Dakota seek or receive such care. Republican Rep. Fred Deutsch, a supporter of the measure, estimated 20 per year.
Democratic Rep. Kadyn Wittman warned that the state will likely be sued if the bill becomes law, and the defense will be costly. Republican Rep. Jon Hansen replied that he’s ready to spend “every last cent that it takes” to “defend children.”
Nelson had some other pointed remarks about the legislation. He objected when a Republican supporter of the bill, Rep. Brandei Schaefbauer, quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Nelson said it was “reprehensible” to use the words of King, who worked for justice and equality, to advocate for discrimination.
Nelson closed his remarks by saying, “I’m here, I’m queer, and I’m not leaving Pierre.”
Legislation to ban or restrict gender-affirming care for minors has been introduced in at least 21 states this year, and one of them, Utah, has enacted it into law, with Gov. Spencer Cox signing a bill to this effect last weekend. Alabama and Arkansas had passed bans earlier, and both are blocked by courts while lawsuits proceed. Florida medical boards have prohibited this care in most cases, and a university hospital in Oklahoma has ceased providing the treatment to minors after the state passed a law to withhold funds.
The Human Rights Campaign denounced the South Dakota House’s action. “This is yet another example of legislators deliberately ignoring the real issues facing South Dakotans, and instead shamelessly targeting a small group of vulnerable youth simply trying to navigate life as their authentic selves,” Cathryn Oakley, HRC state legislative director and senior counsel, said in a press release. “This legislation has nothing to do with the reality for transgender youth who receive gender-affirming care, on the advice of their doctors and with the consent of their parents, that is age-appropriate, medically necessary best practice care. Instead, it is about currying favor with extremist voices on the far right who have no shame about harming young folks for their perceived political gain. These legislators don’t know more about this health care than every major medical association, representing more than 1.3 million doctors, and note that this legislation will continue to allow nontransgender youth to continue to receive this same care. They are admitting discrimination, not science, is their motive. We call on the South Dakota Senate to reject this discriminatory legislation, and to start focusing on ways to actually improve the well-being and public health of children in the state.”
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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring