Story at a glance

  • HB 1057, a bill banning transgender operations on children under 16, died in the South Dakota Senate on Monday.
  • Multiple organizations had expressed concern over the bill’s potential ratification.
  • Proponents of the bill argued it would act as a “pause button” for youths experiencing gender dysphoria.

The South Dakota bill that would have prevented doctors and physicians from providing transgender medical services, such as hormone therapy, puberty blockers or gender reassignment surgery to minors under the age of 16, failed to get enough support in the state Senate on Monday.

The Republican-majority Senate committee voted 5-2 to reject the proposal, the Associated Press (AP) reports. This implies it won’t be reintroduced again this year.  

House Bill 1057 was initially introduced by Republican state Rep. Fred Deutsch and was fast-tracked through the House of Representatives. 

In the original version, the bill would have made it a Class 4 felony for a medical professional to perform gender reassignment operations, surgeries, or treatments to support a child’s sex change while they’re under the age of 16. 

By the time it was up for a vote in the Senate, proponents added amendments getting rid of the criminal chargers to medical professionals who administered gender-affirming treatments, but added the option for children to sue if they regretted the treatment. 

Deutsch had previously referred to the bill as a “pause button” for minors who may want transgender medical services. Deutsch says that the debate around the bill has raised awareness of the doubts some doctors have of the long-term mental health benefits of such treatments, according to the Associated Press. 

Conversely, LGBTQ+ advocates argued that the bill would prevent children experiencing gender dysphoria from seeking medically necessary health care that could alleviate mental health issues that often accompany struggles with gender identity. 

Republican Governor Kristi Noem, as well as some other Republican senators, reportedly had concerns as to how far the state government can regulate this matter.

Outside of the South Dakota legislature, AP notes that leading authorities, such as the Endocrine Society and World Professional Association for Transgender Health, don’t recommend gender confirmation surgeries for children. 

As for adolescents who are going through puberty, the Endocrine Society recommends the oversight and consultation of a team of medical and mental health experts to facilitate treatment options, which can include puberty-blocking drugs or hormone therapy. 

Organizations like the ACLU and the South Dakota Medical Association also opposed the bill’s ratification, stating it discriminated against transgender people and prevented doctors from administering medical treatment, according to the Associated Press. 

Similar bills have been proposed in states like South Carolina, Missouri, Florida and Kentucky, among others.  

Published on Feb 11, 2020