South Dakota Lawmakers Are Targeting Transgender Children

South Dakota lawmakers target transgender students and transgender athletes with three new bills.

Fresh off the defeat of Senate Bill 49, which would have forced trans student-athletes to play sex-segregated sports according to what’s listed on their birth certificate, South Dakota lawmakers have introduced three new bills that could prove monstrously harmful to trans kids in the state.

A handful of state politicians, all Republican, introduced House Bill 1108, House Bill 1205, and House Bill 1225 Wednesday morning.

HB1108 seeks to ban public schools from teaching about “gender identity or gender expression” until eighth grade. HB1205 would give parents the right to refuse gender-affirming health care treatment that would “induce, confirm, or promote the child's belief that the child's sex or gender identity is different from the child's sex presented at birth” without penalty. And HB1225 would make it so trans student-athletes would have to play school sports on the team that matches “the sexual identity noted on the student's certificate of birth.”

In other words, these lawmakers want to prevent kids from learning about transness for as long as possible, stop the ones who do from transitioning until they’re adults, and punish trans kids who do transition by restricting their ability to participate in public life.

“Once again this year South Dakota lawmakers have introduced a package of bills targeting trans young people,” says Chase Strangio, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, in a statement to Out. “South Dakota appears to want to distinguish itself as the state most committed to harming trans youth.”

Lawmakers in the state introduced an earlier trans student athlete bill, Senate Bill 49, in early January, which died in committee last week.

“All of these bills raise serious legal and constitutional questions but perhaps even more concerning are the basic questions of human decency raised when government actors are so committed to targeting a vulnerable group of young people,” Strangio adds. “Trans people already experience incredibly high rates of violence and self-harm due to familial rejection and systemic discrimination. There is no question that bills like these just compound existing harm and trauma and lead to devastating health outcomes.”

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