South Dakota poised to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth
South Dakota is set to be the latest state to ban gender-affirming health care for transgender youth after state senators on Thursday voted to send a measure barring minors from accessing certain medications and procedures to Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who has signaled she will sign the bill into law.
South Dakota’s House Bill 1080, introduced in January by state Republican Rep. Bethany Soye, seeks to prohibit state health care providers from “knowingly” prescribing puberty blockers or hormones or performing surgeries that “validate” a minor’s sex if it is inconsistent with the sex they were assigned at birth.
The bill includes exceptions for intersex youth, minors diagnosed with sexual development disorders, and minors that require treatment for an infection, injury, disease or disorder that has been “caused or exacerbated by” gender-affirming medical intervention.
Health care professionals who continue to provide treatment will have their medical licenses revoked, according to the bill, although physicians that have initiated a course of treatment for a minor patient prior to July 1 may “systematically reduce” that treatment through Dec. 31.
An amendment proposed Thursday by Sen. Tim Reed, one of just four Democrats in the South Dakota Senate, would have allowed transgender minors to have access to puberty blockers, which he said can help alleviate a child’s anxiety about their gender “so that counseling can begin.”
“Blockers have a place helping families navigate through an extremely difficult situation,” Reed said Thursday. “We need to be able to give these kids a chance.”
Reed’s amendment failed to pass with the support of just nine senators.
Another amendment, which the Republican-controlled Senate also rejected, would have required South Dakota’s Department of Social Services to provide mental health counseling for minors experiencing gender dysphoria.
House Bill 1080 passed Thursday on a 30-4 vote along party lines. It now heads to Noem, who is expected to sign it into law.
In January, a spokesperson for Noem told the conservative news site The Daily Signal that the governor “supports this legislation” and Soye, the bill’s sponsor, has stated in multiple hearings that the measure has Noem’s backing.
If the bill is signed by Noem, South Dakota will be the sixth state to pass a law banning gender-affirming health care for transgender youth. Similar laws in Arkansas and Alabama have been blocked by court orders.
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