PIERRE, SD (AP) – A group of South Dakota Republican lawmakers introduced legislation Tuesday to ban gay-affirming medical services for transgender youth, forcing the state to join a dozen others considering anti-transgender laws this year. this.
The South Dakota bill, which was unveiled at a news conference at the Capitol, would require children under the age of 18 not to receive birth control pills, medical treatments or surgeries that help them identify as the gender different from the sex on their birth certificate. It would also punish doctors who provide the service by revoking their medical licenses and putting them at risk of prosecution.
South Dakota Republicans have been considering bills that would limit access to health care, schools and sports teams for transgender youth. The law banning trans girls and college-aged women from participating in gender-neutral sports took effect after the Legislature approved it last year.
While some ideas about trans youth have found favor in the Republican-controlled statehouse, critics said even bringing up the idea sends a harmful message to children.
“Gender-affirming care is an important part of helping young people with birth defects succeed in school, build healthy relationships with friends and family, and live authentically who they are,” said Democratic Rep. Erin Healy.
But Republican Rep. Jon Hansen, one of the lawmakers pushing the bill, said puberty is a “natural cure” for gender dysphoria, which is the stress of feeling like your gender doesn’t match your gender.
“This is a mental health issue that needs to be addressed,” said Rep. Republican Bethany Soye, who is the main sponsor of the bill.
Samantha Chapman, advocacy manager for the ACLU of South Dakota, said lawmakers who want the bill are spreading “lies and lies” about trans people.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health said last year that young people with gender problems can start taking hormones at the age of 14 and can undergo some surgeries at the age of 15 or 17. to improve mental health and reduce the risk of suicide.
However, state lawmakers across the country have focused on trans health care. Last year, Arkansas and Alabama passed similar bans. But both were blocked by federal courts.
“Every year, South Dakota lawmakers take a look at transgender youth,” Chapman said. “And every year transgender people are hurt when the economic crisis is not addressed.”