South Dakota is set to prohibit nearly all forms of gender-affirming treatment for transgender minors after a proposed law gained sweeping approval through its state legislature.
The state Senate passed a House bill banning surgical and non-surgical gender-affirming treatment for minors on Thursday in a 30-4 vote, advancing the legislation to Gov. Kristi Noem’s desk. Noem will sign the bill into law, a spokesperson for the Republican governor told CNN on Friday.
The legislation bars puberty blocking medication in patients under the age of 18, as well as sex hormones and surgery related to gender transition.
Opponents of the measure say it would be harmful to transgender children and is an intrusion by the government into medical decisions.
“Surgeries-gone-wrong are simply not happening in South Dakota,” said Democratic state Sen. Liz Larson while announcing her opposition. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t need the state Legislature when I’m in the doctor’s office.”
Susan Williams, who heads of the transgender advocacy group Transformation Project Advocacy Network in South Dakota, decried the measure.
“Our community is sad. Our community is angry. Worst of all, our community is scared,” Williams wrote in a post on her group’s Facebook page. “I feel betrayed by the elected officials who are supposed to protect my family that just voted against us.”
State Sen. Tim Reed, a Republican, offered an amendment that would have removed the ban on puberty blockers, arguing some minors need them for reasons other than gender transition. But his amendment failed on a voice vote.
“Puberty blockers can calm a child’s anxiety so that counseling can begin,” Reed said. “Blockers have a place helping families navigate through an extremely difficult situation.”
Supporters of the legislation say treatment for minors should be limited strictly to mental health counseling. Republican state Sen. Al Novstrup, a sponsor of the legislation, said, “We care deeply about children who are struggling with their identities and want to provide them with true meaningful help, not permanent physical damage.”
South Dakota is among several Republican-led states that have been proposing — and advancing — anti-trans measures in recent years. Last February, South Dakota became the first state to disallow transgender women and girls from competing on sports teams consistent with their gender at accredited schools and colleges.
More recently, Utah passed a law last month that bans hormone treatment and surgical procedures for minors seeking gender-affirming care.
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