Feb 14, 2023 - Politics & Policy

South Dakota second state to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth

Photo of a person waving an LGBTQ pride flag

A protester at an LGBTQ rights rally in November 2018. Photo: Bill Tompkins via Getty Images

South Dakota has become the second state to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth after Republican Gov. Kristi Noem signed the controversial bill into law.

The big picture: South Dakota is one of several GOP-led states escalating attacks on trans rights through legislation that often targets youth. More than two dozen bills targeting trans health care were introduced at the start of 2023 state legislative sessions.

Details: The law bars health care workers from prescribing puberty blockers and sex reassignment surgeries.

  • It does not limit or prevent provisions of services to minors born or diagnosed with a "medically verifiable disorder of sex development," according to the bill's text.

What they're saying: "I am signing HB 1080 to protect our kids from harmful, permanent medical procedures," Noem said in a statement. "I will always stand up for the next generation of South Dakotans."

Yes, but: Reputable medical groups, including the American Medical Association, have warned of the negative mental health impacts spurred by restrictions on gender-affirming care, especially for trans youth who have an increased risk of suicide.

  • A January 2022 survey by the Trevor Project found that over two-thirds of LGBTQ youth said recent debates over anti-trans state laws have hurt their mental health.

Worth noting: South Dakota's ban comes a year after Noem signed into law a bill barring trans girls and women from participating in school sports that align with their gender identity.

  • The White House later condemned the measure, accusing state lawmakers of putting trans youth and their families at risk of bullying and discrimination.

The big picture: The Department of Justice has said that blocking access to treatments could violate "federal constitutional and statutory provisions that protect transgender youth against discrimination."

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