STATE SEEKS TO CRIMINALIZE TRANS HEALTHCARE

A recently proposed bill in South Dakota would criminalize providing gender affirming care to minors. This care includes treatment such as prescribing puberty blockers and performing medically necessary surgeries. These treatment options, considered the best standards of care for patients suffering gender dysphoria, could soon be classified as class 1 misdemeanors. Under this bill, any doctor found performing this care would be stripped of their medical license and could face a year in jail.

The author of House bill 1057 (HB 1057), Republican Fred Deutsch, claimed that his bill would protect “vulnerable children who are too young to understand the impact” of the choice they would be making. Deutsch then compared these treatment options to Nazi science experiments claiming that the brutal experiments were being repeated on transgender youth. Deutsch has apologized for these statements, but opponents of the bill have claimed that these claims reflect a lack of knowledge on the subject.

Critics of the bill were quick to point out that puberty blockers, a medication designed to temporarily prevent sexual development, are often used to allow trans and nonbinary people time to make a decision. No matter the decision they make, the blockers can easily be stopped with few side effects. Opponents of the bill also referred to current research regarding self-identification. A study from the University at Houston shows that trans people typically know their gender between 18 months and three years old.

As of now HB 1057 is being examined by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Should the bill pass this examination and be signed into law by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, South Dakota will be the first state to officially criminalize healthcare for transgender minors. Although they could be the first state to pass such a bill, they will not be the first to suggest one. As of now eight other states, including Illinois, have had similar bills introduced.