Human Rights Campaign: The South Dakota Legislature is Continuing its Discriminatory Mission to Legislate Transgender Youth out of Existence

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, condemned members of the South Dakota House for passing HB 1080, a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth. If the legislation were to become law, healthcare providers could lose their medical license or other certifications if they continue to administer age appropriate, medically necessary, life-saving care to transgender children. The bill will now head to the Senate for consideration. This legislation is the result of ongoing far-right pressure placed upon lawmakers, spearheaded by political extremists and disinformation campaigns on social media and other platforms. It is one of hundreds of bills being pushed by national anti-LGBTQ+ organizations across dozens of states.

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

“This is yet another example of legislators deliberately ignoring the real issues facing South Dakotans, and instead shamelessly targeting a small group of vulnerable youth simply trying to navigate life as their authentic selves. This legislation has nothing to do with the reality for transgender youth who receive gender-affirming care, on the advice of their doctors and with the consent of their parents, that is age-appropriate, medically-necessary best practice care. Instead, it is about currying favor with extremist voices on the far-right who have no shame about harming young folks for their perceived political gain. These legislators don’t know more about this healthcare than every major medical association, representing more than 1.3 million doctors, and note that this legislation will continue to allow non-transgender youth to continue to receive this same care. They are admitting discrimination, not science, is their motive. We call on the South Dakota Senate to reject this discriminatory legislation, and to start focusing on ways to actually improve the well-being and public health of children in the state.”

Cathryn Oakley, HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel

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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