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South Dakota's Bill to Punish Doctors Treating Trans Youth Just Died

The governor of South Dakota.

UPDATE (2/10/2020): A bill that would have fined doctors providing affirming care to trans children under 16 in South Dakota, has "effectively died in committee," according to a tweet from the ACLU today. The bill was passed in the state's House of Representative in January, but died in the Senate among vocal pushback and in a packed committee hearing. Some tweeted that the hearing was standing-room only and there was a line down the hall to get in. 

In the committee hearing, possible amendments to the bill were offered. Representative Fred Deutsch amended the bill, in a motion that passed, but the text still would punish care, though it wouldn't be a criminal penalty. Among the speakers, those for the bill were mostly either from out of the state, or cited statistics from outside of the state while those in support included the likes of Kim Parke, who is a parent to her trans child Quinncy. Quinncy also spoke about what gender dysphoria feels like. 

Senator Wayne Steinhaeur motioned to move the bill to the 41st day of legislating, when there is only a 40 day session. This would effectively kill it. Senator Red Dawn Foster seconded it, which was eventually passed.

ORIGINAL (1/30/2020): Not even a full month in to 2020 and the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is well underway. While last week Tennessee made discriminating against LGBTQ+ couples for religious reasons protected by law, this week South Dakota is pushing to make it illegal to give trans children the life-affirming care they need. 

On Wednesday the South Dakota House of Representatives passed House Bill 1057, which would make it a felony to provide hormones and other care to trans children under 16 — the original version said under 18 but was then amended. The bill, which was composed by Republicans, passed with a vote of 46 to 23.  

It is one of a reported 25 antli-LGBTQ+ bills that have been proposed this year already.

According to Representative Fred Deutsch, who sponsored the bill, it will protect children who “are being chemically castrated, sterilized, and surgically mutilated.” Except that’s not what this care does. 

As we’ve said here before, puberty-blocking medication delays puberty, but doesn’t cause any permanent change. Gender-affirming surgery for minors is very rare and only occurs when doctors deem that it’s medically necessary.

“By blocking medical care supported by every major medical association, the legislature is compromising the health of trans youth in dangerous and potentially life-threatening ways,” Libby Skarin, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, said in a statement.

The bill is expected to go to the Senate some time next week.


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