Human Rights Campaign Condemns South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem for Signing Discriminatory Gender Affirming Care Ban into Law

by HRC Staff

Pierre, SD - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, denounced South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem for signing HB 1080 into law, thereby banning age-appropriate, best practice, gender affirming-care for trans youth. The measure was advanced by the Senate last week and will cause healthcare providers to lose their medical license or other certifications if they administer what is age appropriate, medically necessary, life-saving care to transgender children – care that is supported by every credible medical organization representing over 1.3 million doctors in the United States.

South Dakota lawmakers are caving to a far-right pressure campaign spearheaded by political extremists and disinformation on social media and other platforms. It is one of hundreds of bills being pushed by national anti-LGBTQ+ organizations across dozens of states.

Gender-affirming care is age-appropriate care that is medically necessary for the well-being of many transgender and non-binary people who experience symptoms of gender dysphoria, or distress that results from having one’s gender identity not match their sex assigned at birth. Gender-affirming care is the integration of medical, mental health and social services. For transgender children, transition is an entirely social process which may include a new name or pronouns, wearing different clothes or styling one’s hair differently. At puberty, doctors may一in consultation with and having the informed consent of the transgender youth and their parents一prescribe reversible medication known as puberty-blockers, which allow a young person to safely reach an age in which they’re truly able to consent to further treatment.

In response, Cathryn Oakley, HRC’s State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel released the following statement:

“Today, once again, Governor Noem chose to ignore the consensus best practices of every major medical association, the well-being of transgender youth, and the pleas of South Dakotan parents in favor of yet again wielding the power of the state to discriminate against these kids simply because they’re transgender. . This dangerous and discriminatory policy ignores the facts about gender affirming care and only breathes more oxygen into the misinformation and extremism that far-right politicians like Governor Noem seem all too eager to dabble in for their own purposes and at the expense of these kids.”

Cathryn Oakley, HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel

Last year, Governor Noem authored and signed into law legislation banning transgender youth from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity. However, a survey published by the Washington Post three months later found that 59 percent of its respondents said they opposed or strongly opposed banning transgender girls from participating in K-12 athletics. The analysis, by leading political scientists, highlights how the recent wave of anti-transgender policies does not align with public opinion.

Get the facts about gender-affirming care:

  • Every credible medical organization – representing over 1.3 million doctors in the United States – calls for age-appropriate gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people.
    • “Transition-related” or “gender-affirming” care looks different for every transgender and non-binary person.

    • Parents, their kids, and doctors make decisions together, and no medical interventions with permanent consequences happen until a transgender person is old enough to give truly informed consent.

  • Gender transition is a personal process that can include changing clothes, names, and hairstyles to fit a person’s gender identity.
    • Some people take medication, and some do not; some adults have surgeries, and others do not. How someone transitions is their choice, to be made with their family and their doctor.

    • Therapists, parents and health care providers work together to determine which changes to make at a given time that are in the best interest of the child.

    • In most young children, this care can be entirely social. This means:
      • New name

      • New hairstyle

      • New clothing

      • None of this care is irreversible.

  • Being transgender is not new.
    • Some say it can feel like being transgender is very new – but that’s because the media has been covering it more in recent months and years.

    • But transgender people have always existed and will continue to exist regardless of the bills we pass.

    • And very few transgender people change their mind.

  • ALL gender-affirming care is:
    • Age-appropriate

    • Medically necessary

    • Supported by all major medical organizations

    • Made in consultation with medical and mental health professionals AND parents

  • And in many cases, this care is lifesaving!
    • A recent study from the Trevor Project provides data supporting this — transgender youth with access to gender-affirming hormone therapy have lower rates of depression and are at a lower risk for suicide.

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