On Jan. 29, with 46 yeas and 23 nays, HB 1057 passed the SD House of Representatives, and now its fate rests in the SD Senate. Now, with a name like the Vulnerable Child Protection Act, you might be thinking we ought to be protecting our children from the meth epidemic, neglect and abuse and food insecurity.
But this bill addresses none of these issues that plague the lives of South Dakota’s youth. Instead, it unnecessarily encroaches on the doctor-patient relationship in regard to transgender medical care.
HB 1057 would make it a misdemeanor for any medical professional to provide puberty-blocking medications, gender-affirming hormone therapy, or gender-affirming surgery to any minor under the age of 16. This bill is problematic on many levels.
First and foremost, this bill is creating a problem, rather than solving one. It alludes, that children are having major surgeries before they are emotionally and mentally competent to making these decisions. In fact, one legislator, Rep. Jon Hansen (R-25), exclaimed: “We’re talking about injecting little girls…with testosterone. We’re talking about cutting off little girls’ breasts.”
But, The World Professional Association of Transgender Health already recommends transgender youth don’t have gender-affirming surgery until they are at least 18 years old. Corey Brown, vice president of government relations at Sanford Health, noted the Endocrine Society’s guidelines, saying “[surgery] is just not standard practice or done typically on minors.”
SD Planned Parenthood, who started offering gender-affirming hormone therapy in November 2019, does not provide gender-affirming surgery either. They only offer hormone therapy to patients over the age of 16 — with parental consent for patients 16- and 17-years-old.
Proponents of this bill are using inflammatory and emotional claims that contradict fact and reality in an effort to push legislation that would hurt the most vulnerable populations in our state. The reality is individuals who identify as transgender tend to experience higher rates of mental health issues than the general population, with over 50% of transgender youth attempting suicide every year according to the CDC. However, the National Institute of Health and Current Opinion of Pediatricians says, “social and medical gender transition reduces gender dysphoria.”
A couple studies have also showed that access to puberty blockers—a type of reversible medication that pause puberty— has drastically lowered the odds of lifetime suicidal ideation in trans youth. Therefore, the very medication that this proposed bill wants to prohibit is saving lives.
Last but not least, this bill directly contradicts the American principles we hold dearly. Bodily integrity and privacy are at the core of American values; believing the right to self-determination and liberty is essential to a happy, health, and free life. This bill tells all South Dakotan’s, transgender and cisgender people, that our government knows what’s best for them when it comes to their lives, their bodies and their medical decisions.
So, maybe instead being infatuated with the anatomy and gender of children our legislature should be more focused on addressing actual problems in the state of South Dakota, rather than creating new ones.