South Dakota’s Republican-majority House of Representatives is poised to vote on a bill that would make it a crime for doctors to perform gender-transition surgeries on anyone under 18—legislation that’s been fast-tracked to appear on the agenda for Friday morning.
Rep. Fred Deutsch, who introduced the bill, referred to the legislation as a “pause button” for minors experiencing gender dysphoria.
“Every child in South Dakota should be protected from dangerous drugs and procedures,” Deutsch told the National Review in an emailed statement. “The solution for children’s identification with the opposite sex isn’t to poison their bodies with mega-doses of the wrong hormones, to chemically or surgically castrate and sterilize them, or to remove healthy breasts and reproductive organs. The solution is compassionate care, and that doesn’t include catastrophically and irreversibly altering their bodies.”
Advocates quickly pointed out that the bill amounts to another act of discrimination in a state already inhospitable to trans youth. In 2016, South Dakota became the first state to pass legislation banning transgender people from use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity (though the bill was ultimately vetoed by Governor Dennis Daugaard). Last year, the state also derailed a bill that would allow transgender students to choose sports teams on the same basis. As the ACLU wrote in a statement:
“Transgender kids, like all kids, deserve a chance to experience joy, to learn in a safe environment, to get the health care that they need, and to survive into adulthood,” said Libby Skarin, policy director for the ACLU of South Dakota. “When the government proposes laws that would stigmatize them and undermine their care, they lose those opportunities.”
Libby Skarin, Policy Director for ACLU of South Dakota, pointed out on Twitter that fast-tracking the bill is deliberately designed to curtail discourse:
“To introduce legislation this devastating for kids who simply want to live, be accepted, and get the health care they need is deeply harmful,” Skarin wrote. “To then shut those very families out of the conversation with needlessly fast tracking the hearing is unconscionable.”