New Bill Would Criminalize Medical Providers Who Treat Trans Youth

Supermajority Education Fund

January 24, 2020

Last week, South Dakota lawmakers introduced a bill, HB 1057, that would punish medical providers with criminal charges for prescribing puberty blockers or hormone injections for transgender children by making those acts a Class 1 misdemeanor. On Wednesday, the House Affairs Committee made revisions to the proposed bill, changing it to apply only to medical providers who perform procedures on minors under 16-years-old instead of anyone under age 18. The bill passed through the committee and will next move to a full House vote on Monday.

According to the bill text, any medical professional who provides care to minors under the age of 16 “for the purpose of attempting to change or affirm the minor’s perception of the minor’s sex, if that perception is inconsistent with the minor’s sex,” could face the Class 1 misdemeanor, which can involve one year of imprisonment or a $2,000 fine. 

The procedures listed as punishable include a mastectomy, castration, vasectomy, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, metoidioplasty, orchiectomy, penectomy, phalloplasty, and vaginoplasty. “Removing any otherwise healthy or non-diseased body part or tissue,” and prescribing puberty-blocking medication to “stop normal puberty” are also included as are supraphysiologic doses (amounts greater than what is usually found in the body) of testosterone “to females” and supraphysiologic doses of estrogen “to males.” 

Advocates for trans youth have said that the bill’s mention of surgery doesn’t make a lot of sense since the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care requires patients to be 18 to have gender-affirmation surgeries. 

A study published in the medical journal Pediatrics on Thursday found that transgender young people with access to puberty blockers had lower chances of having lifetime suicidal ideation and had lower severe psychological distress in the past month than trans youth who did not have access to them but would have liked to have access.

Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, told Supermajority News, “This type of legislation is meant to tell a story that trans children are victims of their parents and their doctors who are trying to impose an outside agenda. That’s wrong — trans children and their families should be allowed to make a choice about what’s in their best interest in consultation with their parents and doctors.”

Oakley added that South Dakota “continues to be on the disgraceful cutting-edge in introducing anti-trans legislation.” South Dakota was one of the first states to require that trans students couldn’t use the bathroom of their gender. Although South Dakota was the first state to move forward with this bill, Republican lawmakers across the country have recently filed bills that punish medical providers for giving trans youth gender-affirming care. According to the Washington Post, bills similar to HB 1057 have been introduced in Colorado, South Carolina, Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma, and lawmakers in Texas, Georgia, and Kentucky have said they plan to file bills focused on restricting gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

Update, February 10: HB 1057 was defeated in a 5-2 decision by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.