South Dakota Republican Governor Kristi Noem signed a bill Monday banning both surgical and non-surgical gender-affirming treatments for minor patients. The bill, HB 1080, is set to go into effect on July 31.
The new law will prohibit healthcare professionals from providing gender-affirming treatments to those under the age of 18, including hormone therapy, puberty blockers and gender-confirmation surgery. Healthcare professionals currently providing such treatment must reduce their administration of drugs or hormones by December 31. Any healthcare professional found in violation of the bill will have their license or certificate revoked.
The bill has drawn significant criticism from LGBTQ-rights advocates and medical professionals who argue that it discriminates against transgender minors and constitutes governmental intrusion into healthcare. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Dakota made the following statement in opposition to HB 1080:
House Bill 1080 is a devastating and dangerous violation of the rights and privacy of transgender South Dakotans, their families and their medical providers. Medical decisions belong to patients (and their parents) and their doctors – not the government. The only controversy in providing life-saving gender-affirming care for transgender youth in South Dakota is the one fabricated by legislators who want to see this harmful bill become law.
Advocates of the bill, on the other hand, argue that it protects children from irreversible medical treatments and that parents should have the final say in their child’s medical treatment. Governor Noem stated “With this legislation, we are protecting kids from harmful, permanent medical procedures. I will always stand up for the next generation of South Dakotans.”
The bill makes South Dakota the sixth state in the previous two years to restrict gender transition healthcare for minors. Other states may follow suit with similar restrictions. According to the ACLU, a number of healthcare bills connected to LGBTQ+ rights, including gender-affirmation healthcare, are currently being contemplated across the country.